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.
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