Party Bosses Out, Progressive Block In - Maybe

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The race is on to replace outgoing Council Speaker Christine Quinn. It's considered one of the most powerful positions in City Hall - second only to mayor. For years, it's been a race controlled by party bosses and decided through backroom deals. You can almost smell the smoke-filled room. But there's a serious effort underway to change all that. Here's are four things that make this Council Speaker race (which you can't even vote in) worth-watching:

The word of the day is "Progressive."

We're talking a progressive agenda, progressive voting records, the Progressive Caucus, 13 progressive ideas and ultimately the progressive block of some 20 members that are currently planning to vote together for one Speaker candidate. Their very existence has every candidate talking up their progressive bona fides. The progressive block includes current and incoming Council members. While not a majority of the 51-member body, it's a big and potentially powerful block.

But the party bosses aren't exactly going quietly into the night.

This is not how the Speaker is usually selected, and it's not clear yet if this coalition will make the difference. Assemblyman Keith Wright, the Democratic party boss in Manhattan, said he's "read about" an effort to reduce the influence of the county leaders, but he's not feeling it.

"If they are trying to weaken us, then I guess I don’t understand why people are calling to meet with us each and every day," said Wright who says he met with most of the potential candidates two or three times.

And the candidates are...

Councilmembers Inez Dickens, Dan Garodnick, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Annabel Palma, Jimmy Vacca, Jumaane Williams and Mark Weprin.

No matter who becomes Speaker, there's a historic shift happening at City Hall

For the first time in 20 years, the new City Council Speaker and the Mayor will be from the same party. That inevitably weakens the power of the county party leaders (a.k.a. party bosses) because the Democrats have a citywide party leader: Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. All the candidates profess to support his position ideologically, which means the progressive agenda he campaigned on has a better chance of making its way through City Hall. One legislative item likely to get some early attention: an expanded paid sick leave bill.