Forget all the press concerning Queens banding together with the Bronx to pick the next speaker, Kings County Democratic Party boss Frank Seddio says Brooklyn is still in play to be dealmaker on replacing term-limited Melissa Mark-Viverito to lead the City Council come January.
The eight current City Council Members vying to become Speaker include two Brooklyn members, Robert Cornegy Jr. (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant, Northern Crown Heights) and Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood), two Queens members, Donovan Richards Jr. (D-Queens) and Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Queens), along with Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), and Ydanis Rodriguez D-Manhattan), Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) and Mark Levine (D-Manhattan).
“A lot of people are asking about the speaker’s race and voicing their opinion that if the Bronx and Queens get together that they’re going to make the next speaker. My remarks are simple, how did that work out last time when the Bronx and Queens were together? Unless I missed something we picked the speaker,” said Seddio at last night’s 11th annual Yoswein New York Turkey Shuffleboard Classic to raise funds for the Anthony Genovesi Scholarship at St. Francis College.
“I think right now Robert [Cornegy] has an excellent chance to be the speaker. We’ll be evaluating things much more closely in the next eight weeks before we make that selection, and as time gets closer and alliances become more entangled, we’ll have a candidate, and if it’s not Cornegy, it will be somebody we’ll be supporting.”
Seddio did say that Queens County Democratic Party Chair Congressman Joe Crowley continues to be uncommunicative despite his efforts to reach out several times.
“Joe Crowley doesn’t speak to me. I’ve made attempts to try for us to join together again, but his feelings are they haven’t forgiven us yet for the last four years,” said Seddio, when he was able to trade the Brooklyn delegation support for Mark-Viverito in exchange for several committee chairs and city council jobs.
A source close to the Queens County Democrats responded, “that Joe Crowley has no interest in talking to Frank Seddio.” The source added Seddio is getting less powerful, and that Congress Member Hakeem Jeffires is definitely more influential in terms of both the speaker’s race and Brooklyn politics overall.
Jeffries’ district straddles both Brooklyn and Queens including Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, East New York, Canarsie, Mill Basin, Coney Island, and South Ozone Park and Howard Beach in Queens. He is also has a ranking role in the House Democrats as chair of the party’s Policy and Communications Committee.
Jeffries is particularly important to Crowley, who is chair of the House Democratic Conference, and is interested in becoming the next House Minority Leader should Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) step down. In this scenario, Jeffires can be a major playmaker in bringing the Brooklyn Congressional delegation of Yvette Clarke, Nydia Velazquez and Jerrold Nadler in line to support Crowley, according to one source familiar with both the Speaker’ race and Washington politics.
“Keep your eye on Hakeem, given his stature in both Washington and Brooklyn. He has a lot of support around Brooklyn, including several members in the City Council. Both Mark Treyger and Laurie Cumbo are part of Team Hakeem,” said the source. “He could make the next Speaker, be it Corey Johnson or Robert Cornegy.”
Also playing a possible tie breaker role in the speakers race is the Council’s Republican Caucus consisting of Queens Council Member Eric Ulrich (R-Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, South Ozone Park, Woodhaven), Staten Island Council Members Stephen Matteo and Joseph Borelli, and quite possibly newly-elected Queens City Councilman Bob Holden (R-Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, and parts of Woodside and Woodhaven).
“I have every intention on being on the same page [in the Speaker’s race] as my colleagues from Staten Island. Historically we have played as important a role as any Democrat, and I think this race will be even closer than four years ago,” said Ulrich.
“Most of the city council want someone independent of the mayor on some issues and being able to work with him in some areas that find common ground. We want an independent speaker that is a check and not rubber stamp to the mayor,” he added.
Ulrich said he also speaks regularly to Holden, who pulled a stunning upset of incumbent Elizabeth Crowley earlier this month as a Democrat turned Republican for the general election.
“I have been encouraging him to and wanting him and need him to caucus with the Republicans. He hasn’t made up his mind yet, but it’s encouraging,” said Ulrich.