Eight years ago, Bill de Blasio tried something similar, trying to appeal to individual council members, while Ms. Quinn appealed to the party bosses directly—and of course, went on to win. And no one suggests that the WFP could elect a majority of the City Council, so the Progressive Caucus will still have to horse-trade with a county party.
If the Progressive Caucus is able to hold together, there could a competition among them to be the first to bring their home borough on board. Assemblyman Carl Heastie, the county leader of the Bronx, is viewed as an ideological fellow-traveler. Assemblyman Vito Lopez, the county leader of Brooklyn, could look to solidify himself against WFP challenges. Congressman Joe Crowley, the leader of the Queens Democrats, is a further reach (as are the block of Republicans for that matter, who also get a vote in the speaker’s race) but he may not support Ms. Dickens either, and instead put forward his own candidate—Mark Weprin, a well-liked freshman lawmaker who didn’t run for Anthony Weiner’s open congressional seat for the chance of rising in the Council’s leadership. (Instead, the party’s nod went to his brother, David Weprin, who turned out to be something of a disaster of a candidate and went on to lose to a Republican in a big upset.)
In the end, Mr. Weprin could turn out to be the consensus pick if the two council members from Harlem cancel each other out, but a number of lawmakers said that it is hard to imagine the next Council speaker being a white guy from Queens when the Council is now a majority of minority members.
Ms. Dickens declined to be interviewed for this article, but a spokeswoman, Lynette Velasco, made this appeal plain, saying, “As far as the possibility of becoming the first African-American woman speaker, she has thought about it. She is not going to tell people she hasn’t thought about it.”
Asked why Ms. Dickens would make a good speaker, Ms. Velasco responded, “Look at her record. She has been a very phenomenal council person. She has a great deal of private sector experience and she has also dealt with the public and she knows the political landscape of this city.”
And she added that Ms. Dickens “has worked very closely with Speaker Quinn. She feels she has been a great leader.”
Ms. Mark-Viverito isn’t too inclined to speak about the possibility of becoming the next speaker either. The Observer caught up with her at an El Barrio schoolhouse, where she was gathered with other local lawmakers for a presentation on cyber-bullying.
“Obviously, in situations like this you explore different options,” she said. “It’s not something to discard. I am not sure what I am doing, but I am very flattered to hear my name thrown out there.”
She hinted too that her best chance would be to boost the ranks of her ideological comrades.
“We are a progressive caucus. We obviously have an agenda, we obviously have issues and interests as a caucus that we want promoted and our is interest is always going to be how to expand the support we have. We are looking at some of the races to come. We would love to expand the Progressive Caucus. We all know term limits are there. There are a lot of possibilities.”
Back in the classroom, Ms. Mark-Viverito stood and listened patiently as a Ms. New York, in full tiara and sash, explained the dangers of cyber-bullying. After she was finished, local Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, the son of one of the original barons of El Barrio and someone who actually challenged Ms. Mark-Viverito in a primary only three years ago (in a further sign that she had failed to even galvanize her own district) explained to the youngsters that they needed to pay attention, because they were the next generation.
“We will be done in a little while. Somebody is going to take our place,” he said.
Ms. Mark-Viverito bolted from her chair and interjected.
“No!” she said. “Speak for yourself.”