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Candidates Try Different Tactics In Council Speaker Race

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The race for Council Speaker is complicated. Who should candidates court? Who can’t they ignore? It’s a process done through private meetings, closed-door negotiations and sometimes campaign cash. Courtney Gross filed the following report.

All you need is 26 votes.

"When you are running for speaker, you talk to everybody because it's a pretty small group of people,” said former Speaker Gifford Miller.

Becoming the next speaker of the City Council can be a bit more complicated, one can court the county leaders or even the newly-minted progressive caucus, a group of 20 or so lawmakers trying to flex its muscles for the first time.

Backed by the liberal Working Families Party and labor unions, the group has even recruited its own negotiator for the process, the political director of the building service workers union, Local 32 BJ.

The actual candidates are trying every tactic.

"I am talking to colleagues. I’m meeting with people. I’m meeting with organizations. I’m meeting with opinion makers,” said Queens Councilman Mark Weprin.

And handing out cash.

Weprin has donated from his own campaign account $10,000 to the Democratic county committees in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. He also gave $10,000 to the Working Families Party.

He gave $42,000 to candidates for City Council.

"I’m very happy to help my colleagues. These are people, that, like I said, I am going to be working with and spending a lot of time with over the next few years and I wanted to make sure they are people I like,” Weprin said.

Weprin also spent time out on the campaign trail, knocking on doors and visiting subway stops with freshman council members.

Dan Garodnick did the same thing across the city.

He donated more than $57,000 to those with a say in this year's speaker race, like Councilman-elect Paul Vallone.

"Certainly helped them to finance a campaign to the extent they needed that and I was happy to do that,” Garodnick said.

Melissa Mark-Viverito did not contribute to any Council candidate this year.

In the end, someone with personal experience said that that approach could work.

"If you want to be elected, you have to show every one of these council members that you’re going to treat them equally,” said Peter Vallone Sr., a former Council speaker.

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