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Queens Democrats back Speaker Miller for mayor

"I think it's a huge endorsement," said Miller, who became speaker thanks to previous support from the Queens organization.Of the Democratic challengers to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer leads the field among potential primary voters with 27 percent, according to results released May 11 by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Conn. Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields placed second with 23 percent, while Weiner garnered 13 percent and Miller 11 percent. All four candidates trailed Bloomberg in head-to-head matchups.While far from being a monolith, the Queens Democratic Party is considered one of the most unified and well-run organizations in the state, meaning that its members and supporters are likely to follow its lead. Staten Island's Democrats, by contrast, failed to reach a consensus and did not issue an endorsement."In today's political climate, it's one of the most valuable and important endorsements," Democratic political consultant Evan Stavisky said, noting that most successful candidates have had the party's support. The endorsement vote among district leaders at the party's headquarters in Forest Hills Monday left many clapping and smiling since Miller is a sentimental favorite, Stavisky said."Gifford Miller has remained very close with Democratic activists from one end of the borough to the other," Stavisky said.Miller said he was "gratified" by the endorsement and will work to reduce class sizes at public schools and lower taxes for small businesses, initiatives that he will fund by renewing the personal income tax surcharge for those making more than $500,000. He said that during his time as speaker he had worked to obtain safe streets, good schools, affordable housing and jobs for Queens residents."I have a real record of proven accomplishment," Miller said.While Miller gained the party's official backing, some of its members have broken away to support Ferrer. State Assemblyman Jimmy Meng (D-Flushing) and U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) both announced their support for the Democratic front-runner Monday, joining U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), state Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) and City Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Corona). Half of Crowley's district is in the Bronx, Ferrer's home base, while Meeks supported the candidate in the 2001 mayoral race. Peralta and Monserrate are both Latino as is Ferrer.Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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