Democrats in the New York Assembly want Speaker Sheldon Silver to step down from his leadership post.
“After several hours of discussions this evening, the Assembly Democratic Conference has concluded that Speaker Silver no longer enjoys the support of the conference,” Buffalo Democratic Assemblyman Sean Ryan said in a statement.
The decision to call on the embattled Lower East Side Manhattan Democrat to step down happened after the Democratic Conference met for five hours to discuss his future in the chamber. Although Silver’s successor has not been named, according to the rules, Democratic Majority Leader Joe Morelle would automatically become Speaker of the Assembly if Silver gives up his leadership role.
“It’s pretty clear from everyone who expressed an opinion that we can no longer have the speaker continue on [as] speaker. There was a very strong opinion that the speaker should step down,” Binghamton Democratic Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo told New York’s Capitol Tonight.
New York Republicans would rather see Silver leave public service all together. “Sheldon Silver must immediately resign from the State Assembly. While this is another sad day for New York, we cannot be distracted from the important business of growing our economy and creating jobs,” New York State Republican spokesman David Laska said in a statement. Additionally, GOP members say Silver is toxic for Democrats seeking reelection.
“I do think if he doesn’t step down or if he still has leadership power, I think it could be used in a lot of close races as a vital issue in terms of whether or not individual members supported Sheldon Silver or not,” Republican Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci told The Daily Caller.
Lupinacci noted he is confident the U.S. Attorney prosecuting Silver’s case will be looking at every piece of corruption Silver was associated with, saying, “I don’t think the U.S. Attorney’s office is going to turn a blind eye. I think everything will be on the table.”
There are 150 members of the New York State Assembly. Democrats hold 106 of those seats. 76 members are needed to oust Silver from the Assembly. If the Republican conference sticks together, they would need to find 32 willing Democrats to go along with the move.
Democratic Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh confirmed to reporters in Albany that enough members in the conference are supporting a push to call on the Speaker to resign, but a formal vote was not taken.
Silver was first elected to New York’s Assembly in 1976. He has sat as speaker in the chamber for over two decades before his recent arrest and indictment on corruption charges. According to reports, Democratic lawmakers gave the 70-year-old Democrat an ultimatum Monday night — he could either appoint an interim leader while he fights the five counts against him in court or step down as speaker all together.
The speaker has until Tuesday to decide.
Silver dreamt up a plan where he keeps his title while transferring power to five lawmakers, but the idea was panned as an unrealistic solution by Democrats, The New York Daily News reported. Additionally, the group of members Silver chose to handle his functions of office were mostly representatives from urban areas of the state. Suburban Democrats spoke out against the idea.
“This is not the time to step back or step aside,” Democratic Assemblyman Keith Wright told The Daily News. “This is not the time for committees of five to serve as the alternative speaker or the delegates of the speaker. This is a time for the speaker to resign his post – it is the only appropriate thing to do.”