The race for city council speaker is heating up at City Hall. But 200 miles away, it's also a hot topic. Members of Congress are weighing in on the leader of a legislature far from Washington D.C. Our Courtney Gross reports.
Inside City Hall, candidates for city council speaker are busy courting their colleagues.
But you'll find that race has also caught attention in the nation's capital.
"All of us are concerned about what happens at every level of government," Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said.
Sources tell NY1 that the city's congressional delegation is expected to have more influence over the race for city council speaker than in years past. For one, Rep. Joe Crowley is the Queens Democratic county chairman and could control the most votes in the process.
Gross: Have you sat down with every candidate so far?
Crowley: Just about, I'm sure.
Gross: And you don't have a favorite?
Crowley: Not as of this point.
He is choosing from among eight candidates, and they are all vying for his support.
"There are a lot of folks that I think are going to be influencers," said Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who is one of the candidates. "I think the congressional delegation is part of that."
"Your question is whether congressional leaders will have influence on the speaker's race," Bronx City Councilman Ritchie Torres said. "I suspect the answer is undoubtedly yes."
It starts with Crowley. "I don't know if I am being any more active or not than in the past," he said. "We are in the business here in Queens County, as a party, of electing Democrats to the city council. We make no apologies for that. That's what we do."
But it doesn't end with him. NY1 is told that the race is a topic throughout the delegation. Other members, like Jeffries or Rep. Nydia Velazquez could also sway votes.
Jeffries told NY1 that he has not picked a candidate yet. He does have preferences.
"It is therefore important that members of the city council elect a speaker who is independent of the mayor — not someone who will essentially function as a deputy mayor for legislative relations," Jeffries said.
"It appears to me that Council Members Robert Cornegy and Corey Johnson have, to date, demonstrated the greatest degree of independence from the mayor," Jeffries added. "But the process is still one that is not just days but weeks and months in terms of what lies ahead of us."
There is still some time for these leaders to sway the race; the council does not pick its new speaker until January.
In a statement, Rep. Adriano Espaillat did not commit to a candidate but said he looks forward to reviewing the plans and platforms of each of them.
Meanwhile, Queens Rep. Gregory Meeks is playing coy and said he will support whoever he thinks will serve the city and his constituents best.