Assembly Democrats emerged from a 90-minute closed-door meeting on Thursday to announce their overwhelming support for Speaker Sheldon Silver, who faces a five-count federal indictment on fraud and corruption.
“I’m continuing to support the speaker and I would say the members are overwhelmingly from the conversation that we just had are continuing their support,” said Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, who was joined by dozens of Silver’s 106-member Democratic conference in the Assembly.
In a somewhat chaotic and cramped gaggle with reporters, Morelle insisted members in the meeting remain loyal to Silver, who has held the speaker’s gavel since 1994.
“We believe he can continue on as speaker,” Morelle said.
He added there is an “overwhelming belief in the presumption of innocence” among the members of the conference.
Among those standing behind Morelle to show solidarity with Silver and the conference:
Assemblyman Bill Scarborough, a Queens Democrat who faces his own corruption charges pertaining to the misuse of per diems.
The news conference underscored the bedrock of support Silver has built up over the last 21 years as the speaker of a fractious body of members with competing political, ethic and geographic concerns.
Overwhelming support from the Democratic conference in the Assembly.
I guess Silver's really inspired some loyalty - or knows where the bodies are buried.
In any case, interesting news if you're a teacher hoping Cuomo doesn't get 100% of the agenda he pushed yesterday in his budget/State of the State speech.
If Silver's still in power - even with a five count indictment against him - there may still be a check against Cuomo in the budget negotiations.
UPDATE: Silver not totally out of the woods with his conference yet:
People are feeling overwhelmed,” said one Democratic lawmaker. “They haven’t processed anything, and they are not prepared to make any shifts or changes without knowing more stuff.
We'll see if Silver maintains control of things or if, after weeks of getting hammered in the press, some of his members start to think it would be better to look elsewhere for a leader.
So long as they fear he can survive this, they won't go there.
But if and when they sense he cannot, that's when things get even more interesting than they already are.