Sheldon Silver, the enormously powerful Democrat who led the NY Assembly for 21 years, will officially step down from his Speaker position. He said yesterday, "I will not impede the process....I believe very deeply in the institution. I hope there will be somebody here to carry on the good work that has been done."

Last week, he was officially charged with political corruption (to the tune of millions), and on Monday morning, Silver had agreed to "temporarily" step down, making way for a potential five-person committee to head the Assembly. But now, the NY Times reports that he'll be replaced, "paving the way for them to choose a new leader in an election to be held Feb. 10. A Rochester-area assemblyman, Joseph D. Morelle, who is the majority leader and a top contender to succeed Mr. Silver, will become interim speaker on Monday, officials said."

Morelle told reporters yesterday, "On Monday, there will be a vacancy in the office of speaker." The Daily News adds, "He said he didn’t know if Silver would resign or the chamber would have to take a vote to oust him."

Assemblyman Joseph Lentol told the Daily News on Tuesday that he drew loud applause from his Democratic colleagues when he said the choice of a new speaker is theirs alone.

“We don’t need the governor and mayor telling us who our next speaker is,” Lentol (D-Brooklyn) said he told the members during the private five-hour meeting to decide Silver’s fate on Monday night.

Lentol revealed that a number of legislators told him they had received calls and texts from those close to both Cuomo and de Blasio, although the two powerbrokers deny that they were trying to interfere.

So the land rush is on for Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio to try to get their pick for Assembly Speaker elected. While both deny that they are getting involved, de Blasio apparently likes Carl Heastie, of the Bronx, for the job. Per the Times, he's the "most-talked-about candidate. If successful, he would become the first African-American to hold the position. Mr. Heastie, a onetime budget analyst in the city comptroller’s office who was first elected to the Assembly in 2000, has what could prove valuable experience in the trench warfare of New York politics: He was involved in a raucous takeover of the Bronx Democratic Party in 2008, leading an insurgent faction that overthrew the borough leader, Assemblyman José Rivera."

The Post's Fred Dicker has some more detail:

A half-dozen names of possible replacements are on lawmakers’ lips and here, direct from a usually authoritative Assembly member, is a late bulletin on the maneuvering: “The Queens County organization is making calls for [Queens Assemblywoman] Cathy Nolan.

“A Queens/Bronx coalition would counterbalance a Brooklyn/Manhattan coalition under [Assemblymen] Joe Lentol [Brooklyn] and Keith Wright [the Manhattan Democratic chairman], with 30 votes each.

“Bronx County Chairman [Carl Heastie] is looking like the kingmaker here.’’

That said, a lot of smart money is on well-regarded Assembly Ways and Means Committee Chairman Herman “Denny” Farrell Jr. of Manhattan, a former state Democratic chairman, as a non-controversial successor to Silver, at least on a short-term “interim’’ basis.

Silver still plans to serve in the Assembly: "I will be a member of this house. I was elected by my constituents. I do not intend to resign my seat in this house."