Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dems Pick Miller In 38th AD by Elizabeth Benjamin - The Daily Politics - NY Daily News

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As expected, the Queens Democrats have tapped Mike Miller as their candidate to run in the Sept. 15 special election for the seat vacated by scandal-scarred former Assemblyman Tony Seminerio.

The decision was made by three of the four district leaders in the 38th AD. Seminerio, who remains a district leader despite the fact that he pleaded guilty to, and is awaiting sentencing for, influence-peddling, did not show up at the party HQ to vote.

The decision on Miller, a Community Board 5 member who has never held elected office, was not unanimous.

He got two votes, while Nick Comaianni, a member of Community Board 9 and Community Education Council of District 24 president, received one.

A Queens tipster says the vote was 2-1 for Comianni a few weeks ago. No word on who flipped.

Queens Democratic Party Executive Secretary Michael Reich confirmed Miller's selection and the fact that Seminerio was a no-show. ("We weren't surprised," Reich said of the erstwhile lawmaker's absence in selecting his potential successor).

Miller has been cross-endorsed by the Conservative Party (they formally nominated him last Friday after Gov. David Paterson changed his mind and re-issued a proclamation for the 38th AD special election).

Seminerio regularly ran with the Conservative line - and sometimes the GOP line, too. But the demographic of the district has been changing, with a lot of minorities moving in (it was only 42 percent white after the 2000 Census), supplanting the right-leaning, Caucasian conservative Democrats.

I asked Reich if he's worried Miller's cross-endorsement could hurt him since the special election is being held concurrent with the primary, which tends to draw hard-core Democrats. That would be a big problem for Miller if the WFP, which hasn't picked a candidate yet, decides to nominate someone to his left.

"It's going to be up to us to put the Democratic candidate forward," Reich said. "I believe we can do that. Mike is a guy who has been active in the community for a long time. Honestly, he has not been that active in Democratic politics, but he's a life-long Democrat and he demonstrated to us that he has a great deal of community support."

"...We're trying to add something new and different to the mix here. We're looking to build the party and Mike will help us do that. I don't know what the Working Families Party will do. I hope they'll support our candidate, but we haven't spoken to them as of yet."

It's worth noting that the labor-backed party and its allies have bucked the Queens Democrats in several Council races this year. On the 38th AD question, WFP spokesman Dan Levitan was non-committal, saying only:

"WFP members will look at all the candidates in the race and endorse the one who will best represent working people in Queens."

Of course, letting the 38th AD contest go forward as a regular election was a dangerous proposition, too, because there's not much of a mayor's race to pull voters and the one person who will be spending a lot on GOTV is a certain billionaire whose name will appear on the GOP line.

(Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who wants to keep the seat in Democratic hands, was worried about this, and pushed Paterson to reinstate the special election he had called off).

Meanwhile, one of the three other Democrats who petitioned their way onto the ballot and are now being denied a run by Paterson's special election decision - is filing a federal lawsuit against the governor this afternoon.

No word yet on what Albert Baldeo is going to do.

The Republicans are expected to Donna Marie Caltabiano, who also filed petitions and got on the ballot, to run.