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De Blasio Making Calls in Support of Mark-Viverito for Speaker

By Colby Hamilton on December 17, 2013 6:02pm 

 Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio called nearly two dozen council members on Monday, December 17, to express his support of Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito's campaign to become the next speaker of the City Council.
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio called nearly two dozen council members on Monday, December 17, to express his support of Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito's campaign to become the next speaker of the City Council.
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DNAinfo/Colby Hamilton

CIVIC CENTER — Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has waded into the race to pick the next City Council speaker, urging members to pick Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, DNAinfo has learned.

According to multiple sources, de Blasio reached out to roughly 20 council members — including all of the speaker candidates — late Monday afternoon to indicate he backed Mark-Viverito.

De Blasio told those he called that the upper Manhattan councilwoman was his "very strong preference," according to one councilmember who spoke with him, but he stopped short of telling them how to vote. "Not, 'I want her,' not, 'You have to have her.'"

Another member who spoke to de Blasio also said the incoming administration's message was clear: “They’re for Melissa Mark-Viverito.”

But the new push isn’t sitting well with the county leaders — particularly Assemblyman Carl Heastie in The Bronx and Rep. Joe Crowley in Queens, sources said.

“The county leaders were very upset,” said one Council source.

Another council source close to the Queens county organization concurred: “The counties don't want Melissa.”

According to a Bronx source close to Heastie, the county remained by-and-large opposed to Mark-Viverito — who has a portion of her district in The Bronx—despite de Blasio's backing.

“Both Joe Crowley and Carl Heastie are representing the interests of members, their members have not unified around Melissa's candidacy,” the source said.

Still, the City Council’s Progressive bloc, on offshoot of the council caucus of the same name which is led by Mark-Viverito and Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander, are confident their candidate is in good shape with de Blasio's backing.

A member of the Progressive group said he was confident Mark-Viverito had the the 26 or more votes needed to become the next speaker.

"The bloc votes are really solid," the councilman said.

Sources close to the county organizations disputed the Progressive council's suggestion that Mark-Viverito has enough support to win.

“The county leaders think they have the votes” to oppose her, said a source.

Queens Councilman Mark Weprin and Manhattan Concilman Dan Garodnick are potential alternatives palatable to the county leaders over Mark-Viverito, sources said.

Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for de Blasio, said that, while she wouldn’t confirm that the Mayor-elect had called council members, he wasn’t taking a backseat to the process.

"As he's always done, Mayor-elect de Blasio routinely talks with members of the City Council and other civic leaders about the critical issues facing New York City,” Smith said in a statement. “The City Council will select the Speaker, and Mayor-elect de Blasio looks forward to working with the next Speaker and Council on passing a progressive reform agenda for New York City."

Mark-Viverito did not return a request for comment.

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