He's not even mayor yet and Bill de Blasio can already chalk up a big political victory in the fight for City Council Speaker. After de Blasio picked up the phone earlier this week and urged Council members to support Melissa Mark-Viverto, the crowded field of seven candidates all but cleared away with Mark-Viverto last night releasing a list of 30 Council members (out of 51) who support her candidacy. If the list is accurate, her remaining opponent-- Dan Garodnick of Manhattan -- can only hope to somehow convince six lawmakers to flip-flop and withdraw their support – which seems unlikely between now and Jan. 8th, when the leadership vote will be taken.
While this looks to be a great win for Mark-Viverto, she will owe an enormous political debt to the incoming mayor. For a legislative body that already struggles to be independent from the West Wing of City Hall, it could be an enormous political burden for her and her colleagues to escape the Curse of the Rubber Stamp. Conversely, should the Council somehow balk at any of de Blasio's proposals, he will look particularly weak since he all but installed Mark-Viverto in the speaker's chair. But these are small concerns right now for both politicians are getting what they wanted.
Mark-Viverto's win is also an enormous victory for the Brooklyn Council members – who since 2002 were often on the outside looking in during the speaksership tenures of Christine Quinn and Gifford Miller. Of Mark-Viverto's 30 supporters, 16 hail from Brooklyn. Not a single Bronx incumbent Bronx supported her bid while only six current Democratic councilmembers from Manhattan and Queens publicly declared that they are in her camp. Turning to new blood, Mark-Viverto did extremely well with incoming Council members with 15 of the 21 freshmen pledging their support – with nine of them coming from Brooklyn.
Ah, to be young and in Brooklyn! It's not just for hipsters anymore. And the internal politics of the Council will clearly be radically different next year – as will the dynamic between the mayor and the City Council. But how long will this new Era of Good Feeling last?