While Melissa Mark-Viverito's term as city council speaker runs through January of 2018, the race to succeed her is already quietly underway, with many of her colleagues already jockeying for position. NY1's Courtney Gross has more.

Just two and a half years ago, half a dozen candidates slugged it out to become the next speaker of the city council.

It was a hard-fought race that captivated City Hall in late 2013, but Melissa Mark Viverito emerged as the victor.

Now, a year and a half before the 51 members vote on her successor, the race to replace her is underway behind the scenes.

"Anybody who tells you that they aren't interested in speaker in this very aggressive, passionate council is being disingenuous," Brooklyn City Councilor Robert Cornegy said outside City Hall.

At least eight council members have emerged as possible speaker candidates: Jimmy Van Bramer and Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, both Queens city councilors; Manhattan Councilors Ydanis Rodriguez, Mark Levine, and Corey Johnson; Vanessa Gibson of The Bronx; and Brooklyn Councilors Cornegy and Jumaane Williams.

But none of them has declared that he or she is officially seeking the spot.

For now, they say they're just flirting with the idea.

"I'm certainly very interested in becoming the speaker," Van Bramer said.

"If the opportunity arises, I will be ready to be the new speaker," said Rodriguez.

"It is way too early to talk about this," said Levine.

"I have a reelection to worry about," Williams said.

Behind the scenes, they are taking their colleagues out to lunch or courting county party leaders, discreetly laying the groundwork for a race that will occur in fall 2017.

For now, Ferreras-Copeland is seen as a potential front runner as a pro-de Blasio candidate, someone who would have a close relationship with the other side of City Hall. Ferreras-Copeland did not speak to us for this story.

Meanwhile, we are told Johnson started campaigning earliest and most aggressively, perhaps irritating some fellow members in the process.

Johnson also declined to discuss the race with NY1.

The public does not have a say in this race, as it is entirely up to the 51 members of the city council.

Some wonder if this campaign has kicked up early because there could be vacancy in the position. Perhaps Mark-Viverito will get an appointment in a potential Hillary Clinton administration.

If that doesn't happen, clearly a handful of members will just have a head start.