Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Queens Dems Pick Miller in Controversial Race to Replace Seminerio by Howard Koplowitz - Queens Campaigner

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After a false start, a special election to replace disgraced former state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D-Richmond Hill) is back on, and the Queens Democratic Party was quick to announce its pick to run on the party’s line.

Michael Reich, executive secretary for the Queens Democratic Party, said the organization chose to endorse Community Board 5 member and Glendale resident Michael Miller for the seat, up for grabs in a Sept. 15 special election — the same day borough voters will cast ballots in primaries.

Seminerio resigned from his seat in June after pleading guilty to corruption charges in Manhattan federal court. An indictment charged him with setting up a fake consulting company he used to take in more than $1 million in illegal payments.

Earlier this month, Gov. David Paterson sent out a news release announcing a special election, but recalled the announcement just hours later, attributing the gaffe to an error in his office, according to Paterson spokeswoman Marissa Shorenstein.

Paterson announced the special election again — this time no error — Friday.

“Although there were concerns raised about [the first] announcement, after a comprehensive review of the issues at stake, I have determined that a special election on Primary Day is the most cost-effective, expeditious way to ensure that the people of the 38th District are appropriately represented in the Assembly,” the governor said in a statement. “I urge all eligible voters to go to the polls Sept. 15 to elect their next Assembly member.”

When voters do go to the polls, they will see Miller’s name on the Democratic line after the party and district leaders in the 38th District selected him Monday.

“I’m honored to receive the support of the Queens Democratic Party for my candidacy for the 38th Assembly” district, Miller said in a voicemail message.

“I’m running for the state Assembly to strengthen our neighborhoods — from improving our schools to continuing my efforts to protect our families,” he said. “I will work hard every day to earn the trust of the people of our communities and to make them proud.”

The Queens Democratic Party’s endorsement of Miller was a blow to Ozone Park attorney Albert Baldeo, who led a six-candidate field in fund-raising before the special election was called.

“It’s a sad day for democracy in our district that the vote was taken away from the voters,” Baldeo said.

Baldeo repeatedly told TimesLedger Newspapers he expected to be the party’s choice because of his loyalty to the organization and his help in getting some of their candidates elected.

Last year, Baldeo bowed out of a primary race in favor of then-City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), who went on to defeat then-state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) in November.

In 2006, Baldeo came within 800 votes of defeating Maltese in a close election that shocked the borough’s political establishment.