Senate Dems Despair, Silver… Does What, Exactly?

One of the longest-running themes among New York Democrats at this point is the notion that Sheldon Silver just isn’t that helpful when it comes to helping his party win elections outside the Assembly.

Ray Hernandez refers to the latest iteration of that lament this morning in a story about despairing Senate Dems. Here’s the passage:

And some Democrats have accused party leaders of failing to do more to help the party’s chances in the Senate.
Among the targets of their criticisms have been Sheldon Silver, the leader of the State Assembly, and the man he helped install as chairman of the State Democratic Party, Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell Jr.
Some New York Democrats have speculated that Mr. Silver, arguably the most powerful Democrat in the state, would prefer not having a Democratic majority leader in the Senate who could challenge his power in the party. But a spokesman for Mr. Silver strongly disputed that contention, calling it “really outrageous.”

Certainly, complaints about legislative leaders have always been a common feature in Democratic politics, and Silver’s standing has been secure enough among his own members to have exceeded the amount of time it normally takes for a Speaker to fall victim to legislative mutiny.

But are the charges that he’s not a team player really “outrageous”?

It’s always been somewhat difficult for us in the media to separate anonymous griping about Silver – of which there has never been a shortage – from legitimate complaint.

For that matter, it’s been famously hard for anyone outside of Silver’s inner circle to tell what he’s really thinking on any subject at any given time. (The New York Times has described him as “inscrutable” at least four times since 1998, according to Nexis, as did some unoriginal reporter in The Observer.)

Can anyone — particularly those of you with longer institutional memories than we have – share some stories of Silver helping, hurting (or just ignoring) other Democrats in their hours of need? Senate Dems Despair, Silver… Does What, Exactly?