An extraordinary thing about the race for Speaker is how it’s not being driven by two traditional factors in city politics: political machines and race. Sure, machine politics will play big a role, but neither of the two leading candidates, Bill de Blasio and Chris Quinn, is closely tied to a county organization. And race is part of the politics, as always, but only part.
This is all the more striking because there has been for years a strong feeling that the next Speaker should be black or Latino. One of the loudest voices in support of that notion was East New York’s Charles Barron, the body’s leading race politician. But now even Barron has, reluctantly, given up and allied himself with de Blasio.
“I think it should be a person of color, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be,” he told The Politicker. “The two persons who were running out there weren’t serious,” he said of Leroy Comrie and Joel Rivera.
Barron deplored the weakness of the Council’s Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus. “Before we can get together and make a decision of what we can do as 25 strong, we are all in different camps,” he said. “We have a tendency to be picked off by county leaders, by the mayor, by unions and other groups.”