The contest to succeed longtime New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was supposed to be an open process, giving lawmakers two weeks to mull their options.

Instead, it's looking increasingly likely that the decision will be made before Silver's resignation from the post amid federal corruption charges takes effect Monday night. That outcome would dash the hopes of some lawmakers and reformers who pushed for a departure from Albany's usual backroom politics.

Assemblyman Carl Heastie (HAY'-stee) of the Bronx has emerged as the clear favorite from a field that just a few days ago featured five contenders. Three of them quickly backed out and threw their support behind Heastie, who would be the first African-American speaker in New York. He has only one opponent, Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan of Queens.