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The Specter of Hillary Haunts Wannabe Gifford Miller

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Could being too close to Hillary Clinton actually hurt a New York Democrat? Insiders say the race for City Council speaker is down to the wire between two front-runners: Manhattan’s Christine Quinn and Brooklyn’s Bill de Blasio. “Quinn has much of the Manhattan delegation, while Bill’s support comes more from the outer boroughs,” says a council insider. Amid the intense jockeying, several members grouse that De Blasio’s past as campaign manager in 2000 for Hillary—a pedigree that would be a boon in any other race—is making them worry that he’d spend more time fund-raising and otherwise helping Hillary prep for 2008, and less time on, well, them. “Members want a speaker who’s completely focused on filling their potholes, steering money to their district’s groups, and speaking to their constituents,” a member says. “But it’s a safe bet that a Speaker De Blasio would be spending a fair amount of time in Iowa and other states for Hillary. Bill’s not a local pol; he’s a political operative.” Peter Hatch, De Blasio’s chief of staff, brushed off the worries: “Bill is proud to have worked for Senator Clinton, but he’s focused on becoming a 24/7 speaker for New Yorkers.”

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