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

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

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

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.


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