Council speaker doesn’t have to win to “win”—he just can’t come in third
Gifford Miller’s path to City Hall runs through a runoff against Freddy Ferrer, and is paved with money and a ground game built around his long list of endorsements from unions, clubs, and elected officials. He added to that list Wednesday, announcing the backing of Tenant PAC. Michael McKee, the veteran housing activist who serves as Tenant PAC’s treasurer, said in a statement, “We have never had a citywide elected official who has pushed tenants’ rights and pro-tenant legislation the way Gifford Miller has.”
Just a few years ago, Miller was one of 36 council members who voted for Local Law 38—a gift to landlords that lightened lead paint protections for tenants—a bill that McKee at the time said “allows landlords to do a quick and dirty job as long as they do it quickly enough.” Of course, that was in 1999 when Peter Vallone, Sr. was running things at the City Council and members were reluctant to defy him. In today’s endorsement, McKee cites Giff’s moves since he became speaker (support for affordable housing, rent regulations, and the Mitchell-Lama program) as evidence that, as McKee puts it, “Gifford Miller is a fighter for New York’s tenants.”
The endorsement itself is evidence that Miller is still seen as viable even if he trails Fernando Ferrer by double digits in the race for the Democratic nomination. And why not? As long as Ferrer doesn’t hit the 40 percent mark, all Miller has to do is come in second—it doesn’t matter by how much. According to the latest Marist Poll (reported in today’s Daily News but not yet available on Marist’s website), Ferrer was at 30 percent, Virginia Fields at 19, Miller at 15, and Weiner at 13. Since Ferrer seems very likely to win on September 13, the big race among the Democrats is for second place, and Miller—with lots to spend—is within striking distance.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 10, 2005