Assembly Democrats re-elected Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, tonight as their leader for the upcoming legislative term. (Technically, he’s the party nominee, and the leadership position won’t be official until January, a Silver spokeswoman said. Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans in the chamber.)
Some lawmakers and staff members showed their support for Silver’s re-election by wearing buttons that said, “Silver is Gold.” Silver has been speaker since 1994.
“I don’t think you can find someone who’s got the amount of experience and institutional knowledge that Shelly has,” said Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, Monroe County. “It takes someone who has a steady hand and somebody who doesn’t give sound bites and tells people what they want to hear.”
Asked what Silver will be able to bring to the Assembly for the coming legislative session, Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, D-New City, Rockland County, said, “We have a lot of challenges coming in the next two years. As a conference I’m hopeful we’ll be able to meet them.”
There has been some speculation in recent weeks about whether Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, would seek to oust Silver as speaker.
But Cuomo has downplayed any rift, and he is scheduled to speak Tuesday to Assembly Democrats in Albany.
Outgoing Gov. David Paterson, a Democrat, had positive things to say about Silver today, even though they have clashed over the budget and other legislative issues.
“We’re friends. Obviously we wind up on opposite sides of issues from time to time and we’ve had our disagreements and we’ve had issues with each other’s opinions. He’s always worked with me,” Paterson said.
On Nov. 15, Assembly Republicans re-elected Brian Kolb as their leader. They currently hold 42 out of 150 seats, one of which is vacant. They gained some members during this month’s elections, perhaps bringing their total to as many as 51 members, pending the outcome of some close races that have not yet been decided.
Senate Republicans voted earlier today to re-elect Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, as their leader. Which party controls the Senate has not been officially determined yet because three close races have not been decided yet. Republicans believe they will win two out of the three and take control of the Senate back from Democrats.
Senate Democrats have not yet held their leadership vote.