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The Progressive Caucus Grows [Updated]

by Ben Max


A couple of weeks ago, in the aftermath of news that members of the 2014 New York City Council Progressive Caucus had decided they would vote as a bloc for the next speaker of the council, I took a look at which council members are likely to be a part of that Progressive Caucus come January.


The caucus, which currently consists of 11 members, is likely to grow to at least 20 in the new year despite losing Council Member and Public Advocate-elect Tish James to her new office.


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Throughout the 2013 election cycle and into the race to be the next speaker of the city council, the Progressive Caucus has become an increasingly discussed and powerful force in city politics. While it is still unclear if the “progressive bloc” will indeed all vote together once the county party bosses weigh in and the backroom negotiations get more serious, with new informaiton, it is worth again taking a look at who is likely to be a part of the Progressive Caucus come January.


On Monday, Seth Barron of City Council Watch reported that Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez has said he plans to rejoin the Progressive Caucus and that he expects those voting with the progressive bloc to support Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, a co-chair of the caucus. While the caucus has interviewed the speaker candidates, there has been no report of its deciding on a candidate.


While there are seven council members seeking the speakership, most reports indicate that there are three front-runners: Council Members Mark-Viverito, Dan Garodnick, and Mark Weprin – only one of whom is a member of the Progressives.


As mentioned, the Progressive Caucus is returning 10 members: co-chairs Brad Lander and Mark-Viverito, as well as Council Members Margaret Chin, Danny Dromm, Julissa Ferreras, Jimmy Van Bramer, Jumaane Williams, Stephen Levin, Donovan Richards and Debi Rose.


During this year’s election cycle, the caucus’ political wing, the Progressive Caucus Alliance, endorsed several candidates who won and are all but certain to join the caucus: Ben Kallos, I. Daneek Miller, Costa Constantinides, Mark Levine, Antonio Reynoso, and Ritchie Torres. This would bring the group to 16.


Also expected to join the caucus are Council Members-elect Helen Rosenthal, Corey Johnson, Carlos Menchaca, and Laurie Cumbo, making for twenty likely members. And then there is the aforementioned Rodriguez – twenty-one.


There could very well be at least one, if not three or four, more members of the Progressive Caucus come January. Council Members-elect Vanessa Gibson and Andy Cohen could become additional members of the caucus, as could returning Council Members Andy King and Rosie Mendez, though it is unclear if either would join after having been on the council and not joining previously.


It will take 26 votes of the 51 member council to name the speaker.


As the race to replace Christine Quinn as speaker moves from the public forums of the last few weeks to the corners of holiday parties and other less visible places, we will see if the progressive bloc does indeed coalesce behind one candidate and all but dictate the outcome.


For more information on the speaker’s race, see our page with candidate and forum info and a catalog of many articles written about the race.

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