From the Morning Memo:

On Nov. 20th, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he would be traveling to Iowa on Dec. 19th to make a speech.

According to the Daily News, he defended the trip during a discussion with reporters by claiming,

“I’ve had this conversation with you for a year or two. This is who I am. This is what ‘m going to do. When there is something that I think is important, I will do my best to do it.

The mayor has been criticized for leaving town at critical junctures before. This time around, a backroom deal was taking hold in his absence to secure the votes for who would be the next NYC Council speaker.

Nothing is complete until the Council members actually vote next month, but Manhattan’s Corey Johnson appears to have reached the threshold of support necessary to succeed the outgoing speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, also of Manhattan.

Johnson had the strong support of Bronx Democratic Chair Marcos Crespo and Queens County Chair/Rep. Joe Crowley. Throughout the fall, sources say, de Blasio stayed in touch with Crowley about who the best speaker candidate would be. But sources also say that when Crowley found out the mayor was leaving town, he pounced.

On the night of the 19th, while the mayor was in Iowa showing reporters he could literally walk and chew gum at the same time and meeting at a hotel bar with members of the NYC PBA who has followed the him to Des Moines, Crowley convened a meeting of New York’s Democratic congressional delegation.

A handful of Congressional representatives each had votes in the Council that they could help bring over for Johnson. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries was able to deliver a couple in Brooklyn, so was Rep. Nydia Velasquez. The deal was done by late Tuesday night.

Catching wind that this was happening, one insider says they reached out to de Blasio’s political team to inform them that the deal was getting finalized. This person was told by Team de Blasio: “Impossible. Joe Crowley promised he’d let us know first.”

Sigh. Politics can be so tricky.

If we look back on recent history, it’s really not all that surprising Crowley was able to emerge as the big winner here (besides Johnson, of course).

Four years ago there was another speaker race, and Crowley was also aligned with the Bronx, although at that time the Democratic chair in the borough was current Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

Crowley and Heastie felt that as county Chairs their combined borough delegation votes should be enough to play kingmaker. But Mayor-elect de Blasio, coming into office with a lot of goodwill and clout, outmaneuvered the two party leaders.

He was able to work with Brooklyn Democratic Chair Frank Seddio to install East Harlem Councilwoman Viverito in the speaker’s chair. Crowley never forgave or forgot what happened. And with his star on the rise in 2017 as his name is frequently invoked as a possible next House speaker, Crowley was not going to let what happened in 2013 repeat itself.

Crowley stuck with his Bronx allies, and left Seddio out of the process this time. He was able to win Manhattan’s Keith Wright over by standing with the chair in his fight with Mark-Viverito over who would be the Manhattan appointee to the NYC Board of Elections.

Wright won that battle Tuesday in court after Crowley and Crespo had worked with him to deny Mark-Viverito a quorum when she tried to corral the votes for her friend Andy Praschak to the board.

Maybe the lesson here is to choose more wisely when you’re planning to go out of town and know when to stay home and fight. Or, at the very least, don’t announce a trip a month in advance – a friendly reminder that nobody is your friend in politics…unless they are getting what they want.