Campaigns & Elections

Francisco Moya’s making moves in the NYC Council speaker race

A top tier has emerged in the contest, and phones are ringing off the hook.

Outside backers of New York City Council Member Francisco Moya made an aggressive push to earn support on Monday.

Outside backers of New York City Council Member Francisco Moya made an aggressive push to earn support on Monday. Ron Adar/Shutterstock

Outside backers of New York City Council Member Francisco Moya made an aggressive push to earn support on Monday – the outcome of which is still in question. Those who like Moya say he’s a top tier candidate who’s only gaining members’ votes. While those backing other candidates say that members didn’t appreciate the outside input, and that Moya has little to no organic support among members. 

Conversations about the speaker race are never entirely clear. Everybody – this reporter included – can see certain pieces of the puzzle, but nobody has put it all together yet. A narrative emerged Monday that New York City Mayor Eric Adams – currently on vacation in Ghana – was supportive of Moya. Depending on who you talk to, maybe it’s just Moya, or maybe Moya as well as Justin Brannan. This isn’t a new rumor – Moya has always been considered to be close to Adams – but it seems to have been the subject of dozens of phone calls and conversations by Moya supporters yesterday who were trying to make a Moya speakership feel inevitable. Moya’s own campaign played it cool Monday night, telling City & State that “he does not have 26 votes” that he needs to win in the 51-member council, but that he’s picking up supporters. “Francisco’s always been a front-runner,” said David Weiner, who is consulting Moya in the campaign. That said, “Francisco definitely does not think he’s won the race, and he’s working hard to gather as many votes as he can.”

But observers of the speaker race say that Moya seemed to overplay his hand. Three separate sources called Monday’s effort a “Hail Mary” pass that didn’t get caught. “Moya is saying he has the votes, but isn’t being specific,” said one source close to the discussions. “Members feel like they’re being played.” One incoming member said Moya “was overcounting votes, overemphasizing support.” Another incoming member said “you can’t take somebody who had zero votes to twenty overnight and not expect to be called on it.”

The only thing people involved in the race seem to agree on is that the race is picking up speed. “That was an insane 24 hours,” said one incoming member who asked for anonymity to discuss private conversations. Another speaker candidate told City & State that they didn’t sleep Monday night because they were too busy with the campaign. A message echoed by multiple candidates? “Team Moya did a good job getting people talking.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the speaker race remains without a clear front-runner, but there’s wide agreement that the top contenders include Moya, Justin Brannan, Keith Powers and Diana Ayala. That leaves three formal candidates – Carlina Rivera, Adrienne Adams and Gale Brewer – on the outside looking in. Things could change. The formal vote won’t be until the first week of January, but many expect the race to be wrapped up sooner rather than later – maybe as soon as late this week. 

This race is shaping up differently than in past years. County leaders in Brooklyn and Queens are weaker than ever, and outside groups like Labor Strong – a coalition of five labor unions – are trying to fill the space. But few, if any, member coalitions have actually chosen a speaker candidate to collectively support yet. They’re waiting for the race to move – and now, it is. “Truth is, no one has put it together because there’s not much to put together yet,” said one consultant involved in the race.

This was always going to be a consequential week in the speaker race. Speaker candidates are recording what will likely be the final forum in the race with NY1 Tuesday afternoon – which is scheduled to air Thursday night. Incoming members are meeting at City Hall Wednesday for a sort of new-member orientation, where they’ll surely be discussing politics on the side. Adams is scheduled to return from his vacation in Ghana on Wednesday night as well. And on Thursday, there’s a stated meeting of the current City Council at City Hall during the day, and at night, the Brooklyn Democratic Party is hosting a holiday event in Williamsburg that’s expected to be a must-attend event for speaker candidates – and Adams as well. 

But things were still shaking out Tuesday afternoon. Ayala skipped recording the NY1 forum, then had to make clear that she was still in the race. “In case you were wondering, I have not dropped out of the speakers race,” she tweeted. “That is fake news.”