Successors Few And Far Between For Silver
By default or by design, there are few successors in the Democratic conference to take the helm from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who reportedly faces a pending arrest on corruption charges.
Silver has ruled the chamber with basically unquestioned authority since 1994, save for a 2000 leadership coup brought by Assemblyman Michael Bragman of the Syracuse area.
In the well documented challenge to his post, Silver punished the instigators but also learned to be a better leader of the conference and listen to individual concerns raised by members.
At the same time, Silver gently could encourage fast-raising stars in his conference to seek higher office, be it the state Senate or Congress — essentially removing those who could one day take over.
To be sure, the rumblings are yet to even begin about who would replace the longtime speaker and an indictment would not automatically remove him from office.
Silver, too, has survived previous headaches in past, including a sexual harassment scandal that involved his office securing more than $100,000 in settlement funds to women who accused then-Assemblyman Vito Lopez of abusive behavior.
Silver’s work at his law firm and his outside income has long come under scrutiny, and while he’s been criticized at times for a symbol of Albany dysfunction, his members have often rallied around him.
Nevertheless, there are enough rank-and-file members in the chamber who could succeed Silver, at least on a temporary basis.
Perhaps the most natural successor could be Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, a Rochester-area Democrat who was elevated to the second-ranking post in 2013.
Morelle is an upstater and is tight with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which could count against him, even in the long run.
Downstate, there are more options, including some longtime lieutenants of the speaker who could easily assume the role for the time being as something of a caretaker.
That includes Assembly Ways and Means Committee Chairman Denny Farrell, Assemblyman Keith Wright (a former state Democratic committee co-chair who has close ties with Cuomo) and Brooklyn Assemblyman Joe Lentol.
Of the more ambitions members, there’s Bronx Assemblyman Carl Heastie, who could be a more long-term replacement for Silver.
In the long run, it’s more likely that the 100-plus member Democratic conference — which is predominantly composed of downstate lawmakers — will push for the first female speaker or a member of the black and Latino caucus (It’s chairman, Assemblyman Karim Camara, a Brooklyn Democrat, is joining the Cuomo administration to work on faith-based programs).
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on January 22, 2015 at 8:49 am, and is filed under Assembly. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|