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

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Funding the race, part II

via Opensecrets.org; Leadership PACs

As noted in part I, 8 of 20 Democratic members of Congress donated to Barbaro's campaign, so I took a little spin around some FEC filings and see where PACs associated with New York members of congress sent their contributions in 2004. I have listed contributions to other Democrats running for Congress in New York state.

Carolyn Malloney NY-14 (Carolyn's PAC) - $1,000
Swett, Katrina (D-NH),

Swett ran for NH-02 on 2002 however does not appear to have run for office in 2004. Her donation is listed in parenthesis, which is not explained, so this may not be a donation. By the way do not look up Katrina at work, as her old campaign site appears to have since become a porn site.

Nita Lowey NY-18 (Cmte for Leadership and Progress) - $102,000 given
Barend, Samara (D-NY) $1,000
Bishop, Timothy (D-NY, incb) $7,000
Higgins, Brian (D-NY) $5,000

Joseph Crowley NY-07 (Jobs, Opportunity and Education PAC) - $39,000 given
Bishop, Timothy (D-NY, incb) $1,000
Higgins, Brian (D-NY) $2,000
Owens, Major (D-NY, incb) $1,000
Serrano, Jose (D-NY, incb) $1,000
Clinton, Hillary (D-NY, incb) $4,000

Charlie Rangel NY-15 (New Leadership PAC) - $364,000
Owens, Major R (D-NY, incb) $6,000

Hillary clinton (HillPAC) - $312,500
Schumer, Charles (D-NY, incb) $10,000

I have placed text in bold where these candidates contributed money to incumbents who did not have competitive elections and direct need for financial contributions. One notably, Sen. Clinton was not even up for re-election in 2004 being elected in 2000. Rep. Major Owens who garnered contributions won his election with 94% of the vote. Statistically I believe that is called a "safe" seat. Owens had a hard fought primary receiving 45% of the vote in a four way race. Regardless of the outcome this seat would not have flipped parties leading one to wonder if that financial contribution would not have better served it's purpose in a contested general election race.

Rep. Crowley donated to Rep. Serrano's re-election (NY-16) which he barely squeaked out with 95%, managing to do even better than Rep. Owens. Even more astounding he made his largest contribution to Sen. Clinton, who at the time was two years away from her 2006 re-election race. Finally, continuing on this thought of reckless and irrational contributions, Sen. Clinton gave $10,000 to Sen. Schumer's re-election. Clinton only managed to make half the legal maximum contribution to Higgins (51%), Barend (41%) and Barbaro (41%).

As we prepare to fight to take back the House and Senate I propose that;

• Sen. Clinton and Schumer shall release any Democrats from the assumed pressure that they pay their dues and line their coffers and in return that there past donors give instead to a contested Senate or House race. Since both Senate seats in New York are safe, that leaves many viable House races.

• Any elected Democrats from New York shall not make any financial contributions to incumbents that are not up for re-election in the upcoming year

• Any elected Democrats from New York shall not make any financial contributions to incumbents in a race where there will not be a competitive general election; meaning a safe Dem seat. This essentially means Higgins and Bishop should be the only incumbent recipients.

• All donations should be prioritized to top tier and second tier House races in New York

• Each Democratic Representative from New York shall be expected to make financial contributions to both top tier and second tier races. Should this not be possible for what ever reason they should be expected to use their donor network to raise an equivalent amount for those candidates.


2006 PAC contributions;

Sen. Clinton (HILLPAC)

Carper, Tom (D-DE) $5,000
Feinstein, Dianne (D-CA) $5,000
Kennedy, Edward M (D-MA) $5,000
Lieberman, Joe (D-CT) $5,000

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Funding the race, part I

I must admit that campaign financing is probably the subject I know the least about. I have become friends with the FEC website, spending more time with it than my bed. I have been pouring over Barbaro's donor list (the Democratic nominee in '04) and opensecrets.org financial listings (for cash on hand estimates) in an effort to get a better understanding of what it will take financial to wrestle this seat away from the Republicans. Policy differences aside, I am just talking about cash. Cash to buy ads, pay for staffing, buy literature, databases and plan and simply cash needed to raise more cash. With no money we can win 30%. With $500,000 we won 41%.

In 2004 Frank Barbaro raised $425,000 to take on Rep. Fossella and his $1.2 million warchest. This will not be a competitive race unless the Democratic nominee can raise $500,000 and that will just get us back to the 41% Barbaro won. Barbaro, a former long shoreman pulled in $187,000 from unions. This is probably not something any candidate will be able to repeat this election. As Stephen Harrison noted in our previous interview, this seat is winnable if it gets funding. Rep. Fossella has just recently surpassed $600,000 for his re-election, an will easily top $1.2 million as he has done in two of the last three elections. Where is the money going to come from to put this seat in play?

In New York this November we have Gubernatorial and Senate elections atop the ticket. It appears there is not going to be a competitive race for Governor as Elliot Spitzer's numbers continue to climb and the Republican and Conservative parties continue to clash over whom they will nominate. Sen. Clinton looks like she is cruising as if this where an off election year and her warchest has already topped $18 million. Sen. Schumer was re-elected in 2004. The attorney general race probably will be won by the winner of the Democratic primary. This leaves congressional races as the front for our battles. As you will see below, outside of NY-13, the next closest election last time around was Rep. Weiner winning with 70%. Clearly there will be more competitive race than this one. That leaves NY-13 as the only New York City centric race for our elected candidates and donors to get behind. As opposed to 2004 however, this time they need to actually support our nominee.

Orange districts note members of Congress who donated to Barbaro’s campaign.
The 13th district is the only Republican held congressional seat in New York City.

There are 20 Democratic members of Congress from New York state, of those 12 are in New York City. In 2004 8 of the 20 donated to Barbaro’s campaign, 6 from New York City. One item of note is that the Bush v. Kerry race topped the ballot and may have pulled money away from Barbaro. Of those twenty only two, Higgins NY-20 and Bishop NY-01 faced a competitive race winning with 51% and 56% respectively and had a dire need to keep their funds and fundraising efforts within their own district. No other members were re-relected with less than 63%. Excluding Higgins and Bishop, the 18 other members of Congress have a combined $7.21 million cash-on-hand. Here is a list of members in decreasing order starting with the highest margin of victory in their last election, followed by COH and donations to Barbaro:

100%, NY-06 Gregory W. Meeks; COH $145,948
donated: $1000 during general election

94%, NY-16 Jose E. Serrano; $72,912
donated: NO

93%, NY 10 - Edolphus Towns; $208,275
donated: NO

89%, NY–15 Charles B. Rangel; $455,245
donated: $2,000 during primary, $5,000 during general election

85%, NY-12 Nydia M. Velazquez; $325,789
donated: $1,000 during general election

81%, NY-14 Carolyn B. Maloney; $645,906
donated: $500 during the primary

80%, NY-07 Joseph Crowley; $546,117
donated: NO

80%, NY-08 Jerrold Nadler; $752,846
donated: $1000 during general election

75%, NY-17 Eliot L. Engel; $131,117
donated: NO

72%, NY-28 Louise M. Slaughter; $378,111
donated: NO

71%, NY-05 Gary Ackerman; $834,277
donated: NO

70%, NY-09 Anthony D. Weiner; $527,840
donated: NO

70%, NY-18 Nita M. Lowey;$877,852
donated: NO

70%, NY-21 Michael R. McNulty; $303,288
donated: $1,000 during general election

67%, NY-22 Maurice Hinchey; $125,491
donated: $1,000 during general election

66%, NY-02 Steve Israel; $807,710
donated: NO

63%, NY –04 Carolyn McCarthy; $521,365
donated: NO

56%, NY-01 Timothy H. Bishop; $449,355
donated: NO

51%, NY-27 Brian M. Higgins; $529,683
donated: NO

retiring, NY-11 Major R. Owens; $4,880
donated: $250 during general election

In 2004 they gave a combined $12,750. $7,000 of that coming from Rep. Rangel's PAC. If those 18 non-competitive seats put in $2,1000 during both the primary and general election, we will have $75,600. If our Democratic caucus is seriously about winning a majority in the House, and having Speaker Pelosi and Rep. Conyers chairing the Judicial committee and authorizing subpoenas then they need to realize this race is not bound by the borders of the 13th congressional district. Our elected officials need not be scared of that fifth borough that you need to take a ferry to get to. Additionally a Democratic majority in the House means:

Rep. Rangel of NYC chairing the Ways and Means Committee
Rep. Nadler of NYC chairing the Constitution Subcommittee

Looking back at that list of members of congress, scroll down that list of names until you get to the 70% group. Atop that you will see Rep. Anthony Weiner. In 2005 Rep. Weiner ran for mayor of New York City, a race that culminated with him as the runner-up in the primary to Freddy Ferrar (who lost to Bloomberg). Rep. Weiner's unexpected results have vaulted him in most circles to the top of the list for 2009 to be the Democratic nominee when Bloomberg steps down. This should set up a Democratic primary between him and Comptroller William Thompson. I find this curious, because if Rep. Weiner believes that New York City needs Democratic leadership at the mayoral level, why does he not support taking out the only Republican congressional representative the city has? If he expects to be taken serious as a candidate for any other city wide office, he can show us a sign of good faith by financially supporting our nominee.

Orange districts note State Senators who donated to Barbaro’s campaign.
Red districts are Republican held (only 4).

As if following the lead of their older sibling in Congress only the outgoing State Senator Seymour Lachman (seat currently held by Diane Savino) gave to Barbaro’s campaign, $2000 during the primary. There is nothing to say short of this was a horrible showing by our elected officials on this level. If we expect to not only replace Rep. Fossella but also replace some state level Republicans the NY State Democratic Party really needs to instill some discipline in these state senators. New York City is represented by 22 Democratic State Senators. 22 NY State Senate members giving a total of $2,100, the maximum individual contribution they can give for both the primary and general election would total $46,200. If you want to get optimistic we really should be talking about everyone maxing out their primary and general election contributions ($4,200 total per person).

Orange districts note State Assembly members who donated to Barbaro’s campaign.
Red districts are Republican held (only 2).

Next verse same as the first. In 2004 the following Assembly members gave to Barbaro’s campaign:
Assem Lentol (AD50) – $300p
Assem John (AD131)– $500p (non NYC)
Assem Cusick (AD63) – $250g
Assem Brennan (AD44) – $150g
Assem Farrel (AD71) – $1,000g
Assem Gotfried (AD75)– $250g
Assem Lavelle (AD71) – $500g
Assem Nolan (AD37) – $100p

Total: $3,150

There are 63 Democratic Assembly members in NYC, and should they all again give a total of $2,100, the maximum individual contribution they can give for both the primary and general election would total $132,300.

The majority of our elected officials at all levels in New York City are basically in seats that will only become competitive in a Democratic primary when there is a vacancy to take on a higher office. There is a bit of an oddity in this cycle because Rep. Towns (NY-10) is seeing some primary challenges partially in part to his pro-CAFTA vote. Asking any of them to part ways with their money should not have any negative impact on future elections. Here I will offer some leway. If for what ever reason each of these people can not personally meet a financial commitment to flipping this seat, then let's have them pledge to bring in the same amount through their connections and soliciting their regular donors. Secondly and maybe as a nice segue to the last point, there is no reason why our Representatives are not each hosting fundraisers every cycle for this seat. What good is sitting on half a million dollars, when right here today, we have a chance of returning a Democratic majority to Congress at arguably the most urgent time in modern history of our government.

In 2004 New York members of congress, state senators and assembly members combined for a total of $17,900 in donations to Barbaro's campaign.

In 2006 we can reach $254,000 simply as outlined above. When we take back this seat certainly we are going to see a large improvement in collaboration with our elected officials and party in the city.

next: Funding the race, part II; party discipline

FEC disclosures for Friends of Frank Barbaro
Campaign contribution limits

I came across some new numbers that may be direct donations to Barbaro and not via Friends of Barbaro that show Rep. Weiner making a $1,000 donation. It also shows Rep. Owens giving $500 as opposed to the $250 I had listed.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A letter from Bill

Dear Friends,

After careful consideration, I have decided not to enter the race to unseat Vito Fossella in the 13th Congressional District. My obligations to my family coupled with the short time frame meant I could not have run the kind of race I wanted to run to take back this seat from the Republicans.

Yesterday I told Bay Ridge civic activist Stephen Harrison that I will vigorously support his campaign in the 13th District. A Democrat can and will win this seat. I ask that those of you who encouraged me to run to now join me in campaigning for Steve. Together we can take back this seat and send Democratic leadership we can trust to Washington.

I feel very fortunate to have so many good friends who offered support and advice over these last few weeks. I was touched by your willingness to help and by your belief in me. This experience has served to intensify my faith in the grassroots activists who are the core of the Democratic Party. I also want to thank the many local and national leaders of our party and of the labor movement who offered their generous support.

I look forward to working with all of you to make 2006 a year of historic change and progress for our country.

--Bill (de Blasio)

Monday, April 10, 2006

de Blasio is out not in

so says the Daily Politics at the Daily News; here

Sunday, April 09, 2006

An interview with Stephen Harrison [part I]

This is the first part of what I hope will be an ongoing conversation with Stephen Harrison (SH);

me: Can you give us a brief introduction about yourself and what motivated you to run for Congress?
SH: A Check out the bio section of harrison06.com for background info on Steve. Although the site is still very much a work in progress, it is much improved from when you initially visited it. Also the quote you lifted from the solicitation letter Steve wrote posted in the donate section no longer exists. He changed the wording a little a bit.

me: In 2005 Frank Barbaro won 41% against Fossella, the best a Democratic challenger has ever done. How do you plan on building off of those results and what do you need to do to win in November?
SH: A From my earlier comment on your blog, “ Barbaro lost in 2004 by 33,000 votes in a district with roughly 500,000 people old enough to vote. There was 40 percent greater turnout in 2004 than in typical years because of the presidential election.

Although I think the Democrats would lose less votes because of dissatisfaction with Bush policies, for arguments sake lets assume both parties lose votes proportionately if turnout returns to normal levels. Fossella's margin is now 20,000.

If 5000 white voters over 25 years of age who didn't vote in 2004 vote this time because of Bush, Iraq, gas prices, whatever, Vito's lead shrinks to 15,000.

Persuading 5000 Fossella supporters to see the light results in a 10,000 vote swing because Vito loses 5000 and we would gain 5000. This cuts the deficit to only 5000 votes.

Between 18-25 year olds of all ethnicities and black and Hispanic adults, there are about 88,000 US citizens who belong to Democratic affinity groups who didn't vote last election to get the remaining 5000 votes.

We plan on accomplishing this by being the most visible opponents Vito has ever had. In 2004, Voters who didn't read the Advance or live in the few neighborhoods with grassroots efforts didn't know who the Democratic candidate was until Election Day. We will be different.

Our campaign will generate media coverage in most of New York's print and broadcast media. Our paid advertising strategy will not be limited to local insertions on news programming on Staten Island cable like other Staten Island Dems. We will purchase a broader range of programming and media aimed at groups we need to target to win. We're also the first Staten Island Democratic congressional campaign to have an Internet marketing strategy.

me: This district has been represented by Republicans for many years. Why do they need to elect a Democrat this November?
SH: You know probably as much as anyone why this needs to be done.

Republican fiscal policy that cuts needed programs for the poor and middle class and yet mortgages the next generation with debt because it starves the government of revenue by cutting the taxes of the extremely wealthy.

Energy dependence
Social Security
Steve’s plan to use laws already on the books to eliminate the Verrazano toll (A copy of the press release is already on the site)

We will be posting detailed policy and issue stances on the site very soon.

me: There are a few other congressional races in New York State this year, where Democrats have a good chance to flip a Republican seat; Eric Massa running for NY-29 and Kristen Gillibrand running for NY-20. These races have received a lot of coverage and could be exciting races for Democrats trying to retake the House. Why should Democrats outside of the 13th district watch your race? Why is picking up this seat more important than some of the others?
SH: Because we can win if properly funded.

Cross posted at Take Back Congress - New York

de Blasio decision by Wednesday

Democratic City Councilman Bill de Blasio is expected to announce by Wednesday whether he will be a candidate against Rep. Vito Fossella this year.


Lavelle said he struck an agreement with de Blasio after meeting with the Brooklyn lawmaker on the Island last weekend, with de Blasio saying he'd let him know within 10 days if he would oppose Fossella (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn).

via Staten Island Advance

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Rangel retraction (sort of)

Rep. Charles Rangel apologized to the Democratic leaders of the 13th for releasing his letter surveying support for de Blasio. Rangel apparently was unaware that there was already a supported candidate in the race (Harrison).

from the Staten Island Advance

"I owe you the deepest apology for not being aware that the Democratic leaders of the 13th [Congressional District] had already selected a candidate to run against Vito Fossella," said Rangel in the fax, which was written on U.S. House stationery and signed, "Your friend, Charlie."

Is Rangel's saving grace letter foreshadowing a de Blasio decision to not enter the race? Rangel's apparent entrance into this race two weeks ago gave de Blasio instant credibility and suddenly made a race where one did not exist. De Blasio's decision was suppose to come last week, and thus suddenly this is looking more and more like the delayed annoucements of each Democrat shying away from the fight in December and January.