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Mark-Viverito Claims She Has Votes To Be Next City Council Speaker

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito believes she will be the next City Council speaker.

Mark-Viverito, a liberal Democrat who represents East Harlem and parts of the Bronx, and several other members are vying to be chosen speaker when the new council convenes Jan. 8.

A candidate must have the votes of 26 of the 51 council members to win. Mark-Viverito released a statement Wednesday night showcasing the support, include quotes, from 30 members.

"I am humbled to have the support and confidence that my colleagues have placed in me,'' Mark-Viverito said in the statement. "Today is the culmination of over two decades of my work at the grassroots, in nonprofit organizations, in labor and as a public servant."

If nothing else, the move read as a power play attempting to drive her leading rival, Manhattan Councilman Dan Garodnick, from the race. Garodnick vowed Wednesday to continue to seek the post.

Mark-Viverito has the support of Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio.

At a forum last month at Baruch College, Mark-Viverito said "now is our progressive moment."

"I see myself as the progressive candidate who has an inclusive vision and a record of accomplishment," she said.

Earlier Wednesday, de Blasio declined to discuss reports that he had been lobbying council members on Mark-Viverito's behalf.

"I will simply say I talked to some council members,'' he said during an unrelated Brooklyn press conference. "I gave them my observations on what's going on. They're going to make their own decision."

Despite the vote next month, much of the speaker selection process is done by closed doors.

The 20-member progressive caucus initially struggled to unify around one candidate but closed ranks around Mark-Viverito. Three powerful Democratic county leaders -- representing Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx -- initially united against Mark-Viverito and were in talks to throw their support behind the slightly more moderate Garodnick.

But on Wednesday Frank Seddio, the Brooklyn county chairman, spoke to de Blasio and later announced he was switching his support to Mark-Viverito, delivering enough votes to apparently push her over the threshold.

Mark-Viverito is widely considered one of the most liberal members of the council and on some positions is even to the left of de Blasio. She is an outspoken advocate for workers and immigrant rights and was arrested in 2011 while supporting Occupy Wall Street.

If chosen, she will be the first Latina to be named speaker. She would replace Christine Quinn, who is leaving office at the end of the month.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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