More than any aide or deputy, it is the mayor’s wife who wields wide influence in City Hall. Mayor Bill de Blasio himself has described Ms. McCray as his top adviser and “moral compass,” who steers both major and deep-in-the-weeds policy and staffing decisions, essentially advising her husband in every decision he makes. Ms. McCray also serves as the unpaid chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, a nonprofit organization that directs private resources to public interest projects, and has hired her own $170,000-per-year chief of staff, who sits in the City Hall bullpen with top mayoral aides.
First Deputy Mayor
The self-described “bureaucrat in chief” oversees dozens of city agencies and manages almost every aspect of City Hall. He and the mayor have been close friends for years, and their wives worked together as speechwriters for former Mayor David Dinkins. As a storied veteran from the Koch, Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations, Mr. Shorris has the managerial experience Mr. de Blasio lacks. “There are a lot of things that don’t rise to the level of the mayor. And I want everyone to know where the buck stops in those other situations. It stops with Tony Shorris,” Mr. de Blasio has said.
Director, Intergovernmental Affairs
Ms. Wolfe, an experienced labor and field organizer with roots extending back to Mr. de Blasio’s 2009 campaign for public advocate, is among the mayor’s most ardent loyalists. She even shares his Red Sox fandom. Ms. Wolfe is now the director of intergovernmental affairs, where she spearheads his agenda in City Hall and Albany, most notably his signature push for universal prekindergarten.
He’s Mr. de Blasio’s money man, tasked with balancing the city’s budget as the new administration battles an unprecedented problem: expired labor contracts for literally every municipal union. With billions of dollars at stake in a budget of more than $70 billion, Mr. Fuleihan, the understated wonk who crunched numbers for the sphinx-like Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, influences almost everything the city spends money on.
Senior Adviser, Mayor Bill de Blasio
One of Mr. de Blasio’s oldest confidantes, Mr. Ragone is now his senior adviser for strategic planning, working quietly behind the scenes, plotting the mayor’s political chess moves and directing communications strategy. “I really trust his instincts, and I trust his mind,” Mr. de Blasio has said. Watch for Mr. Ragone to continue his key backstage role as part of the mayor’s brain trust.
Ms. Fariña, a 40-year veteran of the city school system, is the woman Mr. de Blasio has entrusted with educating the city’s more than 1 million public school students. After 10 years of the Bloomberg administration nurturing the charter school movement, pushing standardized testing and doing battle with the teachers’ union, the no-nonsense Ms. Fariña has quickly reversed course, promising a more cooperative Department of Education while also getting into several P.R. spats.
Whether or not Mr. de Blasio’s progressive idealism crashes into a wall of reality will depend on whether Mr. Bratton, with his thick Boston accent and media-savvy approach, can prove Mr. de Blasio’s critics wrong: that the five boroughs can be kept safe despite a policing policy shift that emphasizes civil rights over frequent stops even in the toughest neighborhoods. A night owl once spotted at celebrity haunts like Elaine’s, Mr. Bratton and his wife are quickly becoming hot guests at parties, much like his gruffer predecessor, Ray Kelly.
President, 1199 SEIU
The 200,000-member health care workers’ union 1199 SEIU played a pivotal role in electing Mr. de Blasio, announcing its support in May, when Mr. de Blasio was stuck in fourth place in his primary with few other backers. Besides fighting for more financial support for the members he represents, the taciturn Mr. Gresham will also play a key role in any negotiations over high-profile hospital closures.
Director, Political and Strategic Affairs, Hotel Trades Council
The labor operative took a leave of absence running the powerful Hotel Trades Council, where he helped derail Michael Bloomberg’s plan to rezone Midtown East, to lead the nonprofit UPKNYC, which was launched by members of Mr. de Blasio’s inner circle to push his tax-the-rich pre-K plan. The grassroots support that the nonprofit assembled has been cited by the mayor as the key factor to his pre-K victory in Albany.
Senior Adviser, City Council
Amelia Adams, a former top staffer for the ascendant New York Communities for Change, helped both Mr. de Blasio and Melissa Mark-Viverito win their respective races by connecting with progressive activists. After twisting the arms of lefty lawmakers to support Ms. Mark-Viverito, Ms. Adams is a jack-of-all-trades political adviser for the speaker, accompanying her virtually everywhere.
Colin Myler, Editor in Chief, Daily News
Print circulation may be declining, but the editorial decisions made by the city’s two rival tabloids unquestionably shape the day-to-day political discussion. Both papers champion their candidate endorsements on their covers and their issue advocacy can bring major institutions to their knees. They’ve already secured some wins against Mr. de Blasio, who booted his transition press secretary after hounding from the Post over her boyfriend, ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
Founder, National Action Network
Rev. Sharpton, whose decision not to endorse a de Blasio challenger is seen as a pivotal moment in the mayor’s race, has taken on a celebrity status in the new administration. His Saturday morning rallies have become the preeminent stage for top pols to make their case to minority voters. And the never humble Mr. Sharpton has given the mayor an open invitation to a national audience on his MSNBC show.
Founder, Success Academy Charter Schools
Even Mr. de Blasio admits he erred in the way his administration tried to boot Ms. Moskowitz’s charter schools from their controversial co-locations with traditional public schools. But it’s too late now: The governor and well-heeled interests successfully rallied to Ms. Moskowitz’s defense, blocking Mr. de Blasio’s efforts and turning her into one of the faces of education reform in the five boroughs.
President, Kasirer Consulting
One of the most prominent lobbyists in the city, with clients spanning the ranks of high-powered real estate, Ms. Kasirer’s eponymous consulting firm has repeatedly been rated as the highest-earning in New York City. She was the lobbyist behind Cornell’s win to create a new tech campus on Roosevelt Island—the largest investment in the city’s tech industry in decades—and also helped secure the Atlantic Yards deal.
President, United Federation of Teachers
Mr. Mulgrew didn’t support Mr. de Blasio in the Democratic primary, but has more clout in the new administration than nearly any labor leader and is hoping to use it in his ongoing labor contract negotiations. Already, the mayor has adopted some of Mr. Mulgrew’s favorite talking points, such as repeatedly stressing the need to improve teacher retention through better working conditions. (Read: higher pay?)
President, Hotel Trades Council
Mr. Ward helped transform the union of just 32,000 members into one of the dominant labor forces in the city. The group is known for its sophisticated organizing techniques and for putting real boots on the ground where they matter most. In turn, the City Council and City Hall have been wholly supportive of the union’s priorities, especially limiting the expansion of non-unionized hotels.
Political Director, 1199 SEIU
He is one of the city’s premiere backroom negotiators, most recently playing a crucial role representing health care workers in the bitter dispute over redeveloping the money-losing Long Island College Hospital in brownstone Brooklyn. The project will transform the site with new residential towers and a health facility in a potential model for other sites.
Director, Office of City Legislative Affairs
Mr. Lupo serves as gatekeeper of new laws and legislation in the west wing of City Hall. With strong ties to Brooklyn and the City Council, he is a key player in policy negotiations, serving as a liason to council members and whipping up needed votes in the council on de Blasio priorities.
Chair, City Planning Commission
After Mr. Weisbrod served as co-chair of the new mayor’s transition team, where his presence calmed the nerves of an establishment weary of Mr. de Blasio, the mayor convinced the 35-year-long government veteran to return as head of the city’s planning commission, which has the power to dramatically reshape the cityscape through zoning changes. In his previous roles, he is credited with leading the Disneyfication of Times Square and helping lead the 9/11 recovery efforts in lower Manhattan.
Founder, Third Point LLC
Mr. Loeb has demonstrated you don’t have to be part of the political system to affect change in City Hall. A billionaire hedge fund activist, Mr. Loeb helped fund the ubiquitous pro-charter school ads that appeared seemingly overnight featuring the distressed minority faces of children about to lose their schools because of Mr. de Blasio. Amid sinking poll numbers, Mr. de Blasio ultimately reversed course on charters and reportedly reached out directly to Mr. Loeb.
Press Secretary, Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mr. Walzak speaks on behalf of Mr. de Blasio, helping to craft his message and managing his relationship with the media, which has been adversarial at times early on in the mayor’s term. At press conferences, he decides how many questions the mayor takes and when he’s had enough. Mr. Walzak, a genial Wisconsinite, is the most visible City Hall staffer, aside from the mayor’s wife.
Deputy Mayor, Housing and Economic Development
Tasked with transforming the city’s housing landscape, Ms. Glen is expected to use many new tactics to increase the city’s supply of affordable housing, including forcing developers who receive city subsidies and zoning variances to add significant space for low- and middle-income residents in their buildings, and dramatically scaling back height restrictions as an incentive for new units.
State Director & Executive Director, Working Families Party
The political masterminds behind the labor-backed Working Families Party, each man played a decisive role in electing the City Council speaker, comptroller, public advocate and a host of liberal council members. They have long been champions for more paid sick leave for workers, the mayor's first legislative act. One of Mr. de Blasio’s top aides, Emma Wolfe, is an ex-WFP operative too.
Campaign Manager, Andrew Cuomo 2014
Up until recently a top official in Andrew Cuomo’s administration, Mr. Percoco has transitioned to lead the governor’s formidable re-election effort. With more than $30 million in Mr. Cuomo’s campaign war chest and the state Democratic Party in his corner, the hard-charging operative has plenty to work with as he moves to crush GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino and all other rivals this November.
Executive Director, NYCLASS
Ms. Feldman and her allies at New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets, who flushed Mr. de Blasio’s campaign with cash and helped to annihilate his chief rival, have transformed a fringe issue—banning horse-drawn carriages—into front-page news. Mr. de Blasio appears set to banish the tourist favorite, despite loud objections from drivers, a couple newspaper crusades, and the actor Liam Neeson, and replace them with electric cars.
Founder, Sunshine Sachs Consulting
A longtime friend of the mayor’s who used to work with him in the Dinkins administration, Mr. Sunshine has been a key adviser as the mayor fills out his own new administration, advising on key hires and helping to shape his transition efforts.
President, Rubenstein Associates
As the head of arguably the city’s most prominent P.R. agency, Mr. Rubenstein has his hands in nearly every pot, from major league sports to museums. He also sits on the boards of many politically-connected groups, including the Real Estate Board of New York and the Association for a Better New York.
Managing Partner and Founder, Hilltop Public Solutions
One of Mr. de Blasio’s most trusted advisers—and one of the people the mayor specifically called out after his victory—Mr. Baldick heads a DC-based political consulting firm described by insiders as Mr. de Blasio’s political family. He helped lay the early groundwork for the mayor’s campaign, paving the way for an unlikely win.
After helping to orchestrate a long-shot victory in Mr. de Blasio’s mayoral campaign, Mr. Rosen’s firm has become one of the most sought-after strategic communications firms for both groups advocating for causes like child homelessness and well-heeled interests like the founder of Forest City Ratner.
Director, New York Communities for Change
The leader of the community organizing group formerly known as Acorn, Mr. Westin, who can whip up a liberal crowd when handed a megaphone, enjoys a close bond with Mr. de Blasio and has already witnessed victories including the passage of expanded mandatory paid sick leave legislation.
Managing Partner, SKDKnickerbocker
Catapulted into the city’s top crop of consultants after managing Chuck Schumer’s first Senate win, Mr. Isay’s stock sagged this year after leading Christine Quinn’s disappointing bid for mayor, but quickly rebounded as SKDK led the brigade on the charter school battle for Success Academy, pushing pro-charter efforts that paved the way for unprecedented protections in the state budget.
Founder, Metropolitan Public Strategies
The rising star and former aide to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has started his own consulting firm, and already has major wins under his belt, notably knocking off a veteran Brooklyn district attorney and passing Gov. Cuomo’s pro-casino referendum.
President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union
Thanks in part to Mr. Appelbaum and his highly active ranks in the retail workers’ union, developers who receive city subsidies must now pay their workers a living wage—an accomplishment achieved in the more moderate Bloomberg era.
President and CEO, Partnership for NYC
Though one might have assumed the head of the pro-business nonprofit would see her influence wane in Mr. de Blasio’s New York, the consummate strategist is playing nice with the new administration, cautiously praising the recent sick-day mandate instead of slamming it, like she did last year.
U.S. Ambassador to South Africa
Despite his distance from City Hall, the former labor operative and longtime de Blasio confidante has both feet firmly planted in Mr. de Blasio’s inner circle. Mr. Gaspard is so entrenched in city politics that he had to issue an unusual statement denying meddling in the inside-baseball race for council speaker.
Managing Director and Partner, SKDKnickerbocker
Ms. Cunningham has long been considered an Albany powerhouse, advising the campaigns of elected officials ranging from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, as well as helping to pass marriage equality. These days, she’s advising Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice and Sean Eldridge in high-profile congressional bids.
U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York
The top prosecutor for Manhattan, the Bronx and regions north of the city is the man elected officials have learned to fear. The ambitious attorney has racked up numerous convictions of corrupt pols, has recently taken on Gov. Cuomo for shuttering an anti-corruption commission. Mr. Bharara is often speculated to be eyeing a political career himself.
Former Mayor of New York City
No longer holding the reins of City Hall, Mr. Bloomberg’s local influence has waned as he has turned to more national and international causes, but he still has billions of dollars and an army of loyal allies making his wishes known. He refuses comment directly on his successor but has made clear he disagrees with some of Mr. de Blasio’s agenda.
Chairman and Founder, Related Companies
The head of one of the city’s largest developers has spearheaded neighborhood-shaping projects like the Time Warner Center and the Hudson Yards—often financed with taxpayer subsidies. Few have influenced New York’s topography as much in recent years.
Founding Member, Pitta Bishop Del Giorno & Giblin LLC
A pivotal foot soldier rounding up votes to make Ms. Mark-Viverito speaker, Mr. del Giorno helped set up the fund-raising account that allowed her to hire the stable of operatives who were crucial to her win.
President and Founder, Advance Group
Though his firm drew some bad press during the 2013 elections, Mr. Levenson led a successful ad campaign against one of Mr. de Blasio’s top mayoral rivals and played a key role in electing Mr. de Blasio’s favored candidate as speaker of the City Council, ensuring City Hall will remain a friendly place for Advance.
President and Founder, The Black Institute
The former Acorn boss and early de Blasio backer remains highly visible in liberal circles. As president of an African-American advocacy organization, she has provided progressive cover to both the Atlantic Yards development (when she led Acorn) and the Upper East Side’s opposition to a de Blasio-backed waste transfer center.
President, Real Estate Board of New York
Mr. Spinola is well-positioned as the leader of the real estate board in a town where development interests are king. If Mr. de Blasio hopes to build and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing, as he has stated, he’ll need the cooperation of the man who serves as liaison between developers and City Hall.
Special Adviser, Mayor Bill de Blasio
One of Mr. de Blasio’s top communications advisers and a loyalist who worked with him during the early days of his campaign, Ms. Katz works closely with the No. 1 de Blasio-influencer: Chirlane McCray, helping to shape and control her message.
Founding Partners, Red Horse Strategies
The pair are the go-to consultants for left-leaning candidates and advocacy groups in the city after spearheading a wide array of impressive electoral victories last year, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and a slate of city councilmen.
Host, NY1’s Inside City Hall
If you’re running for major office in New York City, you’re almost certainly talking to Mr. Louis, whose program is obsessively watched by the city’s political class. Mr. Louis also has a Daily News column, where he waxes poetic on city politics.
While most of Mr. de Blasio’s celebrity backers were rewarded with ceremonial posts on his large inauguration-planning committee, Cynthia Nixon, an early supporter, earned a slot on his more substantive transition committee. The Sex and the City star has also helped organize boldfacers and lent a ray of star power when de Blasio was far behind.
President, Parkside Group
The house consulting firm for the Queens Democratic Party, Parkside also steered the Real Estate Board of New York’s campaign to swing the City Council to more business-friendly territory.
Founder, George Arzt Communications, Inc.
A dean of the city’s flack kingdom, Mr. Arzt is Ed Koch’s former communications director. He has a degree of institutional knowledge that eclipses most (he began as a City Hall reporter in 1968) and guided the campaigns of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Comptroller Scott Stringer in 2013.
Host, WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show
The cerebral host of the eponymous Brian Lehrer Show appears to be becoming a favored outlet of the de Blasio administration, giving the mayor the chance to air his message in a less restrictive format than sound bite-heavy television shows and the aggressive tabloid press.
Founder, Stu Loeser & Co.
Ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s former top spokesperson now leverages his considerable clout on behalf of clients including Families for Excellent Schools, a pro-charter group, and Uber, which has transformed the city’s taxi industry.
Founder, Park Strategies
The former U.S. senator has transformed into both an NY1 talking head and high-powered lobbyist as a founder of the firm Park Strategies, which represents a wide portfolio of transportation, health care and gambling interests, among others. “He’s the lobbyist you never see, but you feel the presence,” Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group, reportedly said.
Founder, Patricia Lynch Associates
The head of a top lobbying firm with deep ties to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Ms. Lynch lost ground and shed staff after her firm ran into tax troubles last year, but she remains an influential voice in Albany politics and has claimed victories on everything from education funding to more speed cameras in the city.
Chair, Kings County Democratic Party
The Brooklyn Democratic Party lent the crucial votes needed to elect Ms. Mark-Viverito speaker of the City Council, and now its chair, the loquacious and old-school Mr. Seddio, will reap the rewards in the form of jobs for his supporters and returned phone calls from City Hall.
Communications Director, New York City Council
Mr. Koch, Ms. Mark-Viverito’s director of communications, has lent the City Council media savvy sometimes missing from the mayor’s office. Mr. Koch already scored a glowing New York Times profile of Ms. Mark-Viverito’s response to the East Harlem explosion and another Times piece about his boss’ bubbly Twitter presence.
President and Owner, New York Mets
Their fan base may resent them after a seemingly endless spate of losing seasons, but in the real estate world, the Mets-owning pair are winning big after the long-awaited and controversial Willets Point development was approved last year.
Lobbyist, Bolton-St. Johns
One of the best-connected lobbyists at City Hall, Ms. Giske helped usher in marriage equality in the state. Despite her close friend Christine Quinn’s loss in the mayor’s race, Ms. Giske and her firm, Bolton-St. Johns, remain key players both in the city and Albany.
Political Director, Communication Workers of America District One
A boisterous liberal who helped found the ascendant labor-backed Working Families Party, Mr. Master is a labor leader who enjoys a tight relationship with Mr. de Blasio.
Chairman & President, Durst Organization
Durst has transformed the New York skyline with the construction of One World Trade Center, signaling the rebirth of lower Manhattan more than a decade after 9/11.
Moishe Indig, Central United Talmudical Academy
While they may not be household names for most New Yorkers, these two rabbis from Williamsburg have a record of reliably delivering thousands of votes to their chosen candidates.
The highest profile authority on election law in the city remains one of the most sought-after attorneys in political circles for getting candidates on the ballot—or knocking them off.
Founder, Marathon Strategies
A tenacious veteran operative who helped guide Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Mr. Singer was involved in the real estate industry’s multimillion dollar independent expenditure effort last election cycle.
Field Director, UPKNYC
As field director of the nonprofit arm of Mr. de Blasio’s tax-the-rich-for-pre-K effort, Ms. Yazgi helped unite groups across the city to successfully lobby for the proposal.
“You do not want to meet Randy down a dark alley. But you really don’t want to meet him in a lighted courtroom,” Mr. Mastro declares in his official bio. The former deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani is a double threat: he’s a major fund-raising bundler and a formidable courtroom scrapper who was recently hired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to investigate the Bridgegate scandal.
Founder, Progressive Cities
If anyone leads the charge at Mr. de Blasio from the left, it may very well be Mr. Morris, a high-energy communications operative. Mr. Morris has already organized events on behalf of liberal clients calling on the mayor to honor his own affordable housing and Sandy relief commitments.
President, New York City Central Labor Council
Leader of an umbrella group for the city’s million-plus union members, Mr. Alvarez is set to become a key player in City Hall’s labor contract negotiations, which will affect how billions of taxpayer dollars are spent this year as well as the city’s fiscal health.
Vice President and Consultant, The Advance Group
Once a top figure in the Brooklyn Democratic Party, Mr. Yedin remains a behind-the-scenes dealmaker who helped line up votes for Ms. Mark-Viverito.
Peter Madonia, COO, Rockefeller Foundation
Mr. Banks III, a top exec at Con Ed, and Mr. Madonia, Mr. Bloomberg’s former chief of staff, are key members of Mr. de Blasio’s brain trust, shaping the first weeks of the new administration and helping the green mayor build his transition team.
Executive Director, Port Authority
Mr. Foye drew headlines when he helped end the traffic lane closures at the heart of the “Bridgegate” scandal, but he also has his hands in other key developments, including the World Trade Center.
Chief of Staff, Public Advocate Tish James
As Ms. James begins to flex her muscles by suing City Hall over charter school co-locations, Mr. Khan is helping to lead the way—at least as much as is possible for Ms. James, who can be a bit impulsive at times.
Director, Communication and Legislative Affairs, Councilman Vincent Gentile
Though his official title as a City Council staffer may not seem outsized, Mr. Brannan, a jovial and ubiquitous presence on the Brooklyn political circuit, heads a political club that endorsed Mr. de Blasio early, strengthening his ties with the city’s political elite.
Senior Pastor, Christian Cultural Center
His mega-church in eastern Brooklyn frequently hosts top-tier pols, including the mayor and his wife. Among his congregants: Brooklyn D.A. Ken Thompson.
Vice President, Parkside Group
The only consultant/lobbyist who is also a Manhattan Democratic Party leader, Mr. Dilemani is in a unique position vis-à-vis others and has been actively cutting deals on Manhattan’s East Side, a hotbed of recent electoral movement.
Spoiler Alert: Bill De Blasio Is In. Michael Bloomberg Is Out.
It’s a new era in New York City politics and the Observer is using the opportunity to launch a new annual power list.
These are the backroom operators, the influencers, the insiders who pull the levers that make the city run.
The Politics Power List excludes elected officials and candidates to shed a light on the lesser-known forces behind the scenes. They include the small army of deputy officials, top aides and political allies who have ascended in the de Blasio era, ready to march out and wage his battles.
The de Blasio faction has already won some victories. Mr. de Blasio secured his coveted universal prekindergarten funding in the state budget. An expansive new paid sick day mandate has been signed into law. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has reined in several of the most controversial NYPD tactics in a bid to repair community relations. Developers have demonstrated an increased willingness to meet City Hall demands for affordable housing. And the proud liberals now in charge of city governance have their sights set on affecting far more change over the next three and a half years—and maybe another four years on top of that—of Mr. de Blasio’s tenure
On the other side of those battles is a new class of power brokers pushing back against the mayor’s lefty agenda. Charter school advocates have entered the fray like never before. The city’s tabloids have occasionally pounded the de Blasio administration for their pet causes (who knew carriage horse drivers had so many friends?). Lobbyists, of course, have risen with their well-heeled clients. And an eclectic group of others are in the mix as well.
Through consultations with insiders, our readers and each other, the Observer has collected 80 standout names to launch our inaugural political power list.