Republican city council bloc could play kingmaker in Speaker race

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Republican city council bloc could play kingmaker in Speaker race

The small but expanded bloc of Republicans elected to the City Council last week may find themselves kingmakers in the looming race for speaker, insiders told The Post.

When the dust settles from Tuesday’s citywide elections, six of the chamber’s 51 seats may be in the hands of Republicans — boosting their clout in a body divided between moderate and progressive Democrats.

“It certainly gives the Republicans some leverage,” said one city councilman, speaking to The Post from Somos, the annual city and state lawmaker retreat in Puerto Rico.

Three leading candidates have emerged: Francisco Moya from Queens, Carlina Rivera from the East Village and Keith Powers from the Upper East Side.

“I think you’ll see the formation of some blocs coming out of Somos. I think by the end of the conference we will have an understanding of the real top two candidates and who is all smoke and mirrors,” said the pol, who requested anonymity.

Though it came up short in the big-ticket citywide elections, the GOP was able hold three Council seats and snatch a Brooklyn seat previously held by Democrat Chaim Deutsch. The party may pick up two more seats if Brian Fox prevails over incumbent Democrat Justin Brannan in Bay Ridge, and Vickie Paladino keeps her lead in the race for the Flushing seat being vacated by Democrat Paul Vallone. Both races are too close to call.

Brannan, a popular moderate, had himself long been viewed as a frontrunner for the powerful speaker's job.
Brannan, a popular moderate, had himself long been viewed as a frontrunner for the powerful speaker’s job.
Scott Heins/Getty Images

The bloc might also include two other conservative Democrats who will be returning to their seats for a second term, Bob Holden from Middle Village and Kalman Yeger from Borough Park.

Brannan, a popular moderate, had himself long been viewed as a frontrunner for the powerful speaker’s job. There was wide agreement among his colleagues and Council insiders that even if he survives, the closeness of his race will diminish his standing.

“The fact that he wasn’t able to handily beat his opponent is a terrible look for him and it will be used by people who do not want him to be speaker,” said one senior Council staffer.

Unlike most races for elected office, the vote for speaker is a secretive conclave, with the winner chosen behind the scenes with unseen horse-trading and dealmaking among Council members.

As a new mayor with a powerful mandate, Eric Adams could exert significant influence on the decision. A rep for Adams told The Post he did not have a favorite in the race and was not engaging in any backroom politicking.

As for the rumored speaker candidates, Powers is well-liked by his colleagues, Moya is said to have a good relationship with Adams, while Rivera would have standing as a Latina woman in an identity-obsessed chamber. She is also popular with progressives — endorsing several who went on to be elected.

“I think there is a feeling that there is no Latino citywide elected [official] and this is a position that obviously is hugely powerful after the mayor,” a second Council insider said. “Progressives will coalesce behind Rivera and more centrist Latinos will coalesce behind Moya.”

Though only two Democratic Socialist-endorsed candidates will enter the Council next year — there’s at least a dozen more pols with aligned views, said Ross Barkan, a columnist for the socialist magazine Jacobin.

Rivera is popular with progressives — endorsing several who went on to be elected.
Rivera is popular with progressives — endorsing several who went on to be elected.
William Farrington for NY Post

“One of the defining things of the Speaker’s race in the next Council is there is a growing assertive leftist faction which is socialist, if not in name, and a growing moderate and conservative faction that exists almost in direct backlash to them,” he said.

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