With just a few weeks to go before the city council picks its new speaker, people are seeing one candidate's chances rising. NY1 Political Reporter Courtney Gross filed the following report.

For months, many political insiders said the race for city council speaker had two clear favorites: Manhattan City Councilman Mark Levine and Corey Johnson.

But as of late, Robert Cornegy is rising.

"Listen, I started from the bottom and now I am here," he said during a speaker debate on NY1 on Friday.

The Brooklyn councilman is now considered one of the favorites in the contest, in the top tier out of eight candidates.

He persists despite opposition from big labor groups, like the teachers union and the hotel workers.

He was dismissed by other unions, like the building service workers and health care workers, when they made their endorsement last week.

On Wednesday, a group of City Hall agitators, who often criticize the real estate industry, condemned Cornegy's candidacy and claimed he was favoring the city's real estate board over small businesses.

"Under his watch, the small business crisis has gotten dramatically worse," said protester David Eisenbach. "It's a record of failure that we are saying can no longer stand and disqualifies him as a potential city council speaker."

Shortly after the protest, Cornegy walked right by the remnants of the crowd. He wouldn't take NY1's questions about it either:

Cornegy: I won't.

Gross: Can you talk about the status of the race?

Cornegy: No.

NY1 did reach out to the city's real estate board. A spokesman there told us that the board has not spoken with Cornegy about his candidacy. The board's leaders have sat down with Donovan Richards, Johnson, and Levine.

While some protest his rise, the councilman continues to be considered as a top candidate from those trying to influence the race — even in Washington D.C.

"There is a whole host of very good candidates. Jumaane Williams is from Brooklyn. Robert Cornegy is from Brooklyn," New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said. "Corey Johnson has mounted a pretty strong campaign as well, independent from some of the other forces at City Hall.

By no means is this race locked up. Anything can happen between now and when the council votes in January. But many people are keeping a close eye on Robert Cornegy.