After New York City elected a new mayor, the city council speaker’s race began to heat up behind closed doors. Why behind closed doors, might you ask? This race is not to be determined by the constituents of New York, but rather by all 51 city council members in a vote scheduled today. Now, with 48 of the 51 city council members from the Democratic Party, this race is hardly in the Republican’s favor. Most significantly, motivations are high for newly elected mayor, Bill de Blasio, in ensuring the future speaker’s ambitions fall in line with his progressive agenda, especially considering the speaker’s prime responsibilities include working towards consensus with the mayor and city council on issues including overseeing city agencies, zoning, and setting the city’s budget.
The race for the secondmost powerful political office in the city after the mayor has two contenders, frontrunner Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilwoman from District 8 (East Harlem), and Dan Garodnick, Councilman from District 4 (Upper East Side into Midtown East). Bill de Blasio’s top choice and candidate who received 30 official statements of support from council members is Mark-Viverito. The 30 official statements of support are four more votes than what is required in order to become elected speaker. Leading up to today’s anticipated vote, the candidates faced off in debates in public forums throughout all five boroughs. Along with this process and even more influential, numerous behind-the-scenes dealings among political brokers and special interests groups set forth by the de Blasio’s progressive caucus have strongly influenced the great majority of councilmembers who provided the official statements of support for Mark-Viverto. The measures de Blasio is taking are unconventional and causing quite a stir amongst Democrats.
The absolute goal of de Blasio in his quest to secure a self-selected speaker is that the newly elected speaker’s agenda aligns with his, and he/she is ready to work with him, not against him. Therefore, tying Mark-Viverto’s foreseen victory directly to de Blasio and his influencers now ties Mark-Viverto directly to the progressive caucus. While she holds the position of speaker, this notion of indebtedness to his extreme efforts further enhances de Blasio’s high-strung liberal agenda. de Blasio’s agenda also comes with pending rules of reform. These spark from former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s iron grip of control on the council over the past 8 years. The progressive caucus is aiming for progressive legislation and rules reform in order to put the checks on the power on the speaker. As the progressive caucus grows and sways their choice for the race, it is highly questionable whether or not county leaders are still powerful enough to sway the decision, or if members of this such progressive bloc will decide to vote with their caucus coalition.
Even with the battle between the two Democratic candidates heating up, the three Republican city council members’ influence still remains slight. Two Republican members hail from Staten Island and one from Queens. Both Mark-Viverto and Garodnick have expressed they will push forward continued Hurricane Sandy relief aid, in which all three districts with Republican representation were most affected. However, with only three Republican members on city council, the GOP is currently denied majority incentives, including chairing committees. Nonetheless, these council members pledged to voice opposition in areas including Mark-Viverto’s decision not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance during city council meetings, the Provision of sick time earned by employees, and the tax increases on high-income earners in order to fun pre-K.
With the favorable candidate for city council speaker so closely aligned with Bill de Blasio and with only three sitting city council members from Republican party, the agenda and policies set forth are highly unlikely to be anything but favorable for the Republican party. This also is a huge indication of how much force, power, and change de Blasio is not afraid of igniting in order to move his progressive agenda forward. Stay tuned today for the initial unfortunate and negatively impacting outcome of Bill de Blasio’s mayoral victory. This is only the beginning.
Written by Melissa Marovich
Live feed and Researched by Mona Salama
1. Democratic Party Mayoral Primary:
- Pursuant to New York law, in primaries for City-wide offices, if no primary candidate achieves in excess of 40% of the primary vote, there is a run-off. Democratic candidate Bill De Blasio barely surpassed this 40% margin in the Democratic mayoral primary.
- Bill Thompson came in second place in the Democratic mayoral primary conceded on 9/16/2013. Thompson conceded despite the fact that the Board of Elections’ archaic procedures had yet to count some 80,0000 votes.
- Citing the importance of intra-party unity, Thompson and Governor Andrew Cuomo endorsed De Blasio for Mayor.
- There exists significant tension between Governor Cuomo and De Blasio due to agenda both disagreement. Diblasio’s campaign pitch has been to raise taxes on the wealthy to support expanding universal Pre-K program, contradicting Governor Cuomo movement on cutting taxes. Before his endorsement, Cuomo was “curious to find out the real plan for raising taxes on the wealthy for a program.”
- There are also concerns amongst Democrats that the liberal De Blasio agenda would create difficulties for Cuomo’s 2014 re-election campaign. If De Blasio is elected, both would clash on taxes, class warfare and charter schools.
2. Joe Lhota Mayoral Campaign, Update
- Mayor Bloomberg will not endorse anyone in the mayoral general even though days before the primary it was stated by his administration the mayor would endorsed Lhota if Diblasio would win the democratic line.
- During the primary, Bloomberg criticized DiBlasio for running a campaign as “racist” for featuring his biracial family. Bloomberg went on the record in New York Magazine how Diblasio is using his family for support by tailoring a message along with his campaign slogan “a tale of two cities” as a destructive strategy.
- The New York Post ran a story a week before the primary that Bloomberg was “set to endorse Lhota” citing information from City Hall insiders. However endorsements can be damaging to both candidates. For example:
i. Endorsements play a huge role in helping voters decide who to pick for their next mayor. Many voters don’t follow local politics but psychologically it is known that many follow their endorsements over their political views
ii. In 2001, during Mayor Bloomberg’s first mayoral run he was behind in the polls, until endorsed by Mayor Giuliani. Had Giuliani not endorsed Bloomberg, it is likely that Bloomberg would have lost to far left candidate Mark Green.
iii. Like Giuliani and Bloomberg, Lhota is a conservative on issues of public safety and fiscal responsibility, while being a libertarian on social issues.
iv. Pundits disagree on whether a Bloomberg endorsement would help Lhota, given the public’s tepid feelings toward the Bloomberg Administration.
v. Endorsements from other Republicans are similary lacking, although former Governor Pataki has endorsed Lhota.
vi. Unfortunately, John Catsimatidis did not show party unity in a similar fashion to Democrats. Catsmatidis attributes his loss to Giuliani’s support for Lhota.
3. United Federation of Teachers (“UFT”)
- After sitting out the 2005 and 2009 mayoral races, the UFT came out in strong support of the Thompson campaign, spending some $2.6 million. The last mayoral candidate endorsed by the UFT that won the general election was Mayor Dinkins.
- UFT president claimed that the UFT would be “kingmaker” and was “making a mayor, making a winner.”
- Lhota requested a meeting with the UFT, but was rebuffed. However, Lhota recently met with Al Sharpton, and found many areas of common ground.
4. The Race Begins – Lhota vs De Blasio vs Carrion
- De Blasio’s “Tale of Two cities” campaign slogan is attracting voters which helped him from being in 4th place in June to winning the democratic primary by over 15% from Thompson 25%.
- Lhota is now working with all the odds against him, recent polls put Lhota below 25% of voters.
- Lhota claims that De Blasio’s campaign slogan is class warfare, trying to breed resentment between those who live in the rest of the City and those who live on Park Avenue.Lhota believes that De Blasio’s campaign is radical, not progressive.
- Lhota seeks practical, straightforward governance as the goal – building on what we have done, not tearing down what has happened. Lhota argues that new jobs, affordable housing programs and Pre-K programs can be funded from cost savings rather than raising taxes.
- The independent candidate Carrion is on the attack from both rivals as out of touch. He has criticized DiBlasio for using rhetoric of class warfare, making promises that will carry New York down the road to Detroit. New Yorkers down the road of Detroit (similar to Lhota statement). Carrion has attacks Lhota as “insular” and his work as chairman of the MTA as not a leader to take us into the future.
5. Low Voter turnout– Good or Bad?
- This year’s primary in September saw a total of only 700,000 registered voters voting.
- Only 22% of registered Democrats, and 12% of registered Republicans voted in the primary election.
- New York state is ranked 47/50 in voter turnouts
- Low turnout historically benefits incumbents and machine candidates since only prime voters will show up to vote and vote for their choice . If more voters came out to the polls, can this tip the scale?
Edited by Roger S.
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