All it takes to become the next city council speaker is 26 votes in the 51-member body next month. But a lot of other people want a say on who the next speaker is, from unions to county leaders. Now, one endorsement appears to be angering a major player in the race. NY1 Political Reporter Courtney Gross filed the following exclusive report.
On Friday, major unions decided to weigh in on the crowded race for city council speaker.
The building service workers, health care workers, retail workers, and more all decided to back three candidates in the race for speaker: Mark Levine, Ritchie Torres, and Donovan Richards. They picked three out of a total eight candidates running.
"I believe that they share a commitment to values that are important to working people in this city," said Stuart Appelbaum of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union.
But NY1 is learning that move has created some disapproval with at least one power player in this race.
Specifically, sources tell NY1 that Congressman Joe Crowley was angered by it, seeing it as a complication. Crowley is the Queens Democratic Party chairman and controls the most votes in this contest.
Four years ago, Crowley lost out to a coalition that, with the backing of Mayor Bill de Blasio, picked the current council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, who's been term limited out of office.
It is no secret that the unions that weighed in on Friday are close with de Blasio and may be trying to repeat that victory — at least that's what sources close to Crowley are wondering.
The unions told NY1 that the mayor was not consulted on the decision.
"I think we are trying to be very positive and we were speaking affirmatively about three candidates," Appelbaum said.
Still, that group appears to be weaker than four years ago. NY1 was told that members of the city council's Progressive Caucus had asked Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez to negotiate with Crowley for them during the speaker's race. She told them no, opting to stay out of it.
The only candidate not in the Progressive Caucus, Robert Cornegy, has been trying to make waves on his own. He has been rolling out endorsements. On Monday, it was the Transport Workers Union. On Tuesday, NY1 learned that Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 announced it would support Cornegy in the race.
As the end of the year draws closer, more will happen behind-the-scenes. We should know more about who each stakeholder prefers as the next council speaker in the coming days.