NY13 Blog; Retaking NY-13 from Rep. Vito Fossella

Following the corruption, ineffectiveness and hypocrisy of Rep. Vito Fossella.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

more candidate speculation, part II

NY Daily News drops a new name, Janele Hyer-Spencer. Hyer-Spencer is a lawyer, fomer Vinny Gentile staff chief, and Democratic candidate for the 60th Assembly District in 2004.

Hyer-Spencer has two websites, hyerspencer.org and janele.com (both pointing to the latter). Curiously she is the only potential candidate with a campaign site, although the site only lists her as an advocate and activist and does not mention any pontential candidacies. Possibly more interesting is that should Gentile and Hyer-Spencer announce their plans to run for this seat, it would make for an interesting primary. Hyer-Spencer resigned as Staff Chief to Gentile "citing a series of policy and political clashes, including her opposition to Gentile's controversial double-parking legislation."

Monday, December 19, 2005

more candidate speculation

John Minardo (D), Attorney [link]

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Barbaro is out

Frank Barbaro is officially not entering the race as per a press conference he held Dec. 8

Seeding the remaining players by strongest candidate pondering a run:

01. Mike McMahon
02. Mike Cusick
03. Vinny Gentile

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Democratic office holders

These are the current Democratic office holders whose districts are in NY-13

rumored candidates in bold
City Council Member Mike McMahon, 49th District Staten Island
City Council Member Vinny Gentile, 43rd District Brooklyn

• Assembly person Adele Cohen, 46th AD Brooklyn
• Assembly person William Colton, 47th AD Brooklyn
• Assembly person Peter Abbate, 49th AD Brooklyn
• Assembly person John Lavelle, 61st AD Staten Island
Assembly person Mike Cusick, 63rd AD Staten Island

• State Senator Diane Savino, 23rd Senate District Staten Island/Brooklyn

NY-13, part II; the candidates

originally posted on dailykos

Let's look at potential democratic challengers and voting trends in their respected districts. A recap;

  • Fossella has a ceiling of support around 70%, and probably needs to spend at least $1.2 million again as he did in 2000 and 2004

  • While Fossella picked up 3,000 new votes since 2000, the Democratic candidate picked up 20,000 new votes

  • If the Kerry/Edwards voters continued to vote down the ballot, last year's results would have been 55%-45% for Fossella, instead of 59%-41%.  Fossella and Bush had nearly indentical vote totals in each Assembly District, there was about a 6% drop off for the Democratic challenger Barbaro from Kerry's numbers in each Assembly District.

  • Name recognition and/or incumbency seems to sway voters more than party affiliation as not only did Bush and Fossella carry this congressional district, but Senator Schumer (D) did as well.  All three were the incumbent for their positions.  

Frank Barbaro, the Democratic challenger in 2004 was a Brooklyn native running for this seat which is made up of all of Staten Island and four neighborhoods in Brooklyn (Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Gravesend).  Based on the vote totals in 2004, Staten Island holds a 3:1 advantage in voters.  This potentially hints that a Democratic challenger from Staten Island has the ability to make this a stronger chance for a pick up.  There are 51 city council seats in New York City.  Staten Island has three of those CD 49, 50 and 51.  New York City only has three Republicans in City Council, two come from Staten Island (CD 50, 51).  This really is the only area in NYC where the Republican party has any traction and base.  In 2004 Staten Island went 63%-37% for Vito Fossella, but could have been 57%-43% had Democrats not lost down ballot votes to attrition.

Barbaro was a NY State Assemblyman from 1973-97 and then served on the NY Supreme Court through 2003.  While he had great credentials, he was not a regular in the headlines and his name recognition was not as strong as Fossella was in Staten Island.  If Democrats can find a strong candidate from Staten Island, assuming that they will carry or at worse case split the vote in Brooklyn there is a real chance for a fight for this seat.  The Staten Island Advance dropped three names over the weekend as likely candidates, although none have declared their intentions to run yet.  

City Council member, Mike McMahon represents Council District 49 in Staten Island, the only Democratically held Council seat of the three in Staten Island.  Assemblyman Mike Cusick represents the 63rd Assembly District, one of two Democratic Assembly members from Staten Island (out of 4).  City Council member, Vinny Gentile represents Council District 43 in Brooklyn.

NY State Assembly: Staten Island districts map

NYC City Council: Staten Island districts map

City Council member Mike McMahon won in 2005 with 70.8% of the vote.  He comes from the only Democratic stronghold on the island, the northern 49th CD.  Barbaro carried AD 61 19,000 - 16,000, which roughly falls completely in McMahon's district.  In 2005 McMahon carried the AD 61 part of his district in his re-election 16,707- 5,430.  For a city council election, in an off election year (no Presidential elections like Fossella/Barbaro had) McMahon managed to pull in a comparable amount of voters.  While there was a city wide mayoral election, it hardly was close to competitive, possibly indicating a strong base of support and mobilization effort for McMahon.  The more interesting piece to me is that he matched the support Fossella received in this AD in 2004.  Take a look at how solidly Democratic this district is;

AD 61 went:

Bush/Cheney (R)

Sen - Schumer (D)

Rep - Barbaro (D)

Assembly - Lavelle (D)

Council - McMahon (D)

Assemblyman Mike Cusick won (pages 218-220) his 63rd AD race 21,751 - 12,262 in 2004, on the same ballot at Bush/Kerry and Fossella/Barbaro.  Kerry/Edwards netted 19,000 votes, and Barbaro managed to net 15,000, both losing this AD.  For a comparison, Fossella and Bush each pulled in 23,000, just a little more than 1,000 more votes than Cusick, who would appear to be rather popular with his constiuents.  Again this reiterates that a Democrat can carry portions of this district because constituents do not mind splitting their ticket.

AD 63 went:

Bush/Cheney (R)

Sen - Schumer (D)

Rep - Fosella (R)

Assembly - Cusick (D)

Council - (R)

Brooklyn Council member Vinny Gentile, won his 43rd Council District race in 2005, 13,989 - 11,313 (55%-45%).   If I recall correctly this was the closest race for a City Council seat this past November of only 4 that were contested and a real race.  Gentile's Council District is from what I can tell one of two that make up portion of Brooklyn that falls into the NY-13 Congressional District.  The other, district 50 split with a larger portion in Staten Island, and held by a Republican.  Researching the voting trends of the Brooklyn portion of NY-13 gets tricky because the Assembly Districts that are used to tally the votes are split between two Congressional districts NY-13 and NY-8 (Rep. Nadler).  I will leave my analysis at that, noting that it is partially flawed.

AD 46 was evenly split between Fossella and Barbaro. 5,700 - 5,500

AD 60 went for Barbaro ~ 58,000 - 51,000

Brooklyn Assembly Districts map

Brooklyn City Council Districts map

Ok, so enough with the numbers and mutiple sets of districts that don't correspond with each other nicely, here are my thoughts.  I think we need to have a Democratic challenger from Staten Island with an existing voter and donor base. I have to imagine that if Gentile is only winning 55-45% in Brooklyn, he can not carry Staten Island.  Now if he was easily winning re-election with 80% of his district and making major headlines it might be a different story. As for the two Staten Island politicians, McMahon and Cusick, I don't know either.  Is one more progressive than the other?  Is it possible to be progressive on Staten Island?  If anyone lives in either of their districts I would like to hear your opinion on them.  I have recently seen suggestions of a draft Cusick campaign, and on paper would think that he would be the choice, since he could carry or split his otherwise Republican leaning district while carrying McMahon's heavily Democratic district (that Barbaro also carried).  The names I have not heard yet are Lavelle who is the State Assemblyperson for AD 61, which geographically falls within McMahon's council district and as noted above will most likely go to the Democratic challenger and State Senator Diane Savino, who just won that seat in 2004.

Do we risk anything with either of these candidates running for higher office?  It would seem that we could retain McMahon's city council seat, but I do not know the history of Cusick's Assembly seat.  Even if we lost it, Dems would still have a majority in the state assembly that looks like that will not change any time soon.


originally posted on dailykos

NY-13 is the only New York City congressional seat held by a Republican, Vito Fossella. The district encompasses the borough of Staten Island and a part of Brooklyn. Superribbie did a write up of this seat as potential target pick up for Dems in 2006. For the sake of this entry, I am only focusing on Staten Island since the Assembly Districts in Brooklyn are split between two congressional seats (Fossella and Nadler).

This morning I received my monthly DFNYC notice for our link-up with a special announcement that Frank Barbaro (2004 Democratic Challenger to Vito Fossella) will be making an announcement this Thursday, which got me thinking and googling. Is this a potential Democratic pick-up in 2006?


Vito (R):  110,000 (66%)

Johnstone:   58,000 (34%)


Fossella: 72,000 (71%)

Mattsson: 29,500 (29%)


Fossella: 113,000 (59%)

Barbaro: 78,500 (41%)

Cash Comparisons (raised / spent)


Fosslla ($1.2 million / $1.1 million)

Johnstone ($41,000 / $39,000)

Fossella ($760,000 / $890,000)

Mattsson ($16,000 / $7,000)

Fossella ($1.2 million / $1.1 million)

Frank Barbaro ($425,000 / $425,000)

Fossella appears to have a ceiling of about 70%, based on his 2002 race where he outspent his opponent 132:1, a basically non-existent opponent but only managed 71%. Supperribbie notes that NY-13 has a partisan index of 50.5 leaning for Dems. In 2004, with the large turnout due to the Presidential race, Fossella again hit his 110,000+ votes as he did in 2000, yet his Democratic opponent Frank Barbaro picked up 20,000 new votes from 2000.  

Looking at the 2004 election results for Richmond County (Staten Island) which Fossella won 91,000 to 54,000 (link) there was about 14,500 fewer Democratic votes from Kerry/Edwards voters down the ticket to Frank Barbaro.  Compare that to Vito Fossella actually picking up about 500 more votes than Bush/Cheney.  Increasing a Democratic gotv effort and stronger party loyalty down the ballot could potentially put Staten Island at a 91,000 to 68,500 advantage for Fossella, without any Democratic effort to win over undecideds or incumbent voters that broke for Vito Fossella.  

Comparing the voting patterns from the Presidential Race and the Congressional seat we see that Fossella enjoyed nearly a 6% larger margin of victory increase in the three districts Bush won,

AD 60: 61% Bush, 67% Fossella

AD 62: 70% Bush, 76% Fossella

AD 63: 55% Bush, 60% Fossella

and lost by 6% less in the 61st which went for Kerry and Barbaro.

AD 61: 40% Bush, 46% Fossella

At first glance I would say that Fossella has strong support amongst his party, even stronger than the President in this area, however looking at vote total in each AD we see that the vote totals for Bush and Fossella are almost identical, meaning those who went for Bush were very dedicated to down ticket candidates.  The 6% margin difference Fossella enjoyed was the difference between Kerry voters who stopped after the Presidential line and those who continued down the ticket.  

AD 60

11,000 Kerry, 8,500 Barbaro

17,300 Bush, 17,300 Fossella

AD 61

24,000 Kerry, 19,000 Barbaro

16,000 Bush, 16,000 Fossella

AD 62

15,000 Kerry, 11,000 Barbaro

34,000 Bush, 34,000 Fossella

AD 63

19,000 Kerry, 15,000 Barbaro

23,000 Bush, 23,000 Fossella

I rounded those numbers to make it easier on my number crunching, but you can find the results here (note it's a .pdf).  Pages 100 and 107.

With Bush's declining favorability numbers, Fossella will not have any coattails to ride on in 2006.  But that is not all.  Party loyalty is not what it may appear.  In 2004 there was also a Senate race between incumbent Sen. Schumer and Howard Mills (R).  While Bush and Fossella won 3 of 4 AD's in Staten Island, Chuck Schumer carried each one with his closest margin of victory 64%-36%.  Not only that but he carried more votes in each of the 4 AD's than Kerry did

AD 60 16,500 (70%)

AD 61 28,300 (82%)

AD 62 26,000 (64%)

AD 63 27,000 (74%)

So the residents of NY-13 are not party loyalists at all.  In fact this may be more of a sign of an ignored market which could lead to residents favoring incumbents/name recognition.  Should this become a money game, where the democratic challenger can increase their name recognition with some advertising things could get interesting.  Figuring the races higher up on the ticket are going to be Governor (leaning heavily Dem.), Attorney General (leaning Dem.), Senate (Hillary's seat, heavily leaning Dem.) there is very little Republican advertising money that will be flowing through NYC.  

Of course the DCCC might not want to drop $500,000 based on a 41% showing in 2004 just to make this competitive.  But considering practically every other congressional seat in NYC should be safe, and by that I mean 70%-30% or larger victories, there certainly are fellow Democrats who know how to raise money who could/should get involved in this race;

(raised, % vote in last election, 2004 Cash On Hand)

Rep. Rangel ($2 million, 89%, $500,000 COH)

Rep. Nadler ($890,000, 80%, $670,000 COH)

Rep. Weiner ($806,000, 70%, $775,000 COH)

Rep. Maloney ($940,000, 81%, $523,000 COH)

Rep. Crowley ($1.2 million, 80%, $450,000 COH)

Rep. Meeks ($560,000, 100%, $150,000 COH)

Rep. Towns ($770,000, 92%, $62,000 COH)

hopefully more to come...