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Political Action: Miller faces primary opponents on both Dem, Conservative lines

After almost 30 years of limited political confrontation and little active election hostility, the 38th state Assembly District in southwest Queens has exploded into a three-way battle for control of that district seat. This district, located on the Brooklyn-Queens border, includes parts of Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale and Ridgewood.

This district was formerly represented by Democrat Tony Seminerio, who resigned in June 2009 amid a corruption scandal. It is represented presently by Assemblyman Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven), who won a special election last year without having to face a Democratic primary. This year, all that is changed with Nick Comaianni running as an insurgent against Miller, the incumbent Democratic organization candidate, in the Sept. 14 primary. The winner of that race will face the Republican candidate, Donna Marie Caltabiano, in the fall election.

Miller not only faces a Democratic primary from Comaianni, but he will also have a Conservative Party primary. Miller, in addition, to being the Democratic nominee in the district, also received the designation of the Conservative and Independence parties.

The Caltabiano forces, however, circulated Conservative opportunity to ballot petitions, which when filed were accepted by the city Board of Elections. This means Caltabiano has a write-in position on the ballot and the registered Conservatives of the district can write in her name as their choice for Conservative Party candidate. If she gets more write-in votes in the Conservative Party than Miller gets in the primary ballot, Caltabiano becomes the Conservative Party candidate in the fall election.

If Miller loses both the Democratic and Conservative primaries, he will still be on the ballot as the Independence Party candidate for the fall election but with little chance of being re-elected. So the first big test of this election campaign in the district will come with the primary Sept. 14. The final test will be Nov. 2, this year’s general election.

All three candidates have campaign headquarters and are campaigning aggressively. Neither Miller nor Comaianni challenged the other’s Democratic petitions when filed. Although Caltabiano challenged Miller’s Independence Party petitions, those petitions were upheld by the BOE.

In the case of Comaianni, he, like Caltabiano, has been aided by a strong grassroots volunteer effort. He is aided in his campaigning by his being able to speak both Italian and Spanish. He has said he speaks both languages fluently. This should be a big help in his Democratic primary efforts.

If Miller loses the Democratic primary, it will have the effect of causing more Democratic insurgents to come forward and challenge the Democratic county organization, led by U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), when it comes to candidate selection.

Until this year, most county political party infighting had been in the Republican Party, but there are signs that an internal party struggle statewide is beginning in both the Conservative and Independence parties. Insurgent groups within those two parties may be challenging the leadership of their state parties at future state committee meetings.

Generally, it can be said that there is more interest in politics at the local, state and federal level now than there has been for a long time. Everywhere now, political organizations are forming to express their strong feelings on the political issues of the day. The question is if the national political establishment will listen.

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