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Miller raises most in race to replace Comrie

TimesLedger Newspapers

I. Daneek Miller is rolling.

City bus drivers and supervisors helped the transit-labor leader raise more funds than six of his opponents combined early on in the Democratic primary race to replace term-limited City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) in southeast Queens.

Miller, president of the Queens chapter of the Amalgamated Transportation Union and co-chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Labor Coalition, has hauled in $5,675 from MTA employees since he began raising funds in February, recent campaign finance disclosures show.

He also picked up another $3,750 from labor lawyers and medical practitioners in addition to $4,500 in contributions from several unions, including his ATU local.

All told, Miller has netted $20,755 — $166 short of the combined funds of competitors Manuel Caughman, Joan Flowers, Joseph Marthone and Sondra Peeden. Bryan Block, chairman of Community Board 13, which covers much of the district, has reported only a $100 loan he took out for his campaign.

Miller’s strong showing with the labor crowd may get him some recognition early on in a crowded race, but local campaigns are not always won by whoever has the biggest checkbook.

“Clearly if you have labor contacts you’re going to be able to raise money,” said one southeast Queens political operative, who added that the city’s public-matching fund program could level the field among the candidates. “There’s no reason the other players can’t raise enough matching funds. Bryan or Manny or those other guys, they’ll all be over $100,000 when it’s said and done. [Miller’s] not going to have that big of a spread at the end of the day.”

Miller’s filings indicate he is almost halfway toward raising the $15,400 in small donations from the district that would qualify him for the city’s matching program. Candidates who opt into the program by June 10 have their qualified contributions matched on a 6-to-1 basis and have their spending capped at $168,000.

Flowers, an attorney and longtime Democratic operative, follows Miller with just over $8,400 raised, though her filings estimate only $1,470 will be available for the match.

By comparison, Caughman, a community liaison in state Assemblyman William Scarborough’s (D-St. Albans) office and a CB 12 member, has raised about $200 less than Flowers, but estimates almost $4,000 of his contributions qualify to be matched.

Political consultant Sondra Peeden estimates $330 of the more than $4,000 she has raised will be matched.

Marthone, an accountant who most recently ran an unsuccessful campaign challenging U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), reported raising $75, all of which he expects will qualify for the match if he can meet the program’s minimum requirement of $5,000 in raised funds from at least 75 donors.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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