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

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

October: 2000 visitors

This is what interest in a Congressional campaign looks like. Lot's of people in the know will tell you this race isn't interesting and worth their time reporting. Lot's of people will write off Democratic chances of taking this seat. And in return lot's of people are left looking for information in other places because they are feed up and want change. This is 2,000 people in October coming here for information on this race. That number doesn't compare to the numbers who are going to harrison06.com to find out how to change DC.

August set a record for visitors with a little under 600, or 20 people a day reading this little site. Then came September with 900, 30 people a day. Now as we approach midnight on the last day of October we have just surpassed 2,000 visitors in the month. To put that in perspective it took from December until August just to hit 3,000 total. Considering Rep. Vito Fossella won his last election by 35,000 this suddenly can start to be an intimidating number.

Steve's Wednesday events

Tomorrow (Wednesday), Steve will be interviewed on Sam Seder's show on AirAmerica, around 10:30am. You can listen live on their site, airamerica.com

Tomorrow night, Steve will be interviewed on "Inside City Hall" on NY1 (a segment to air between 7 and 8pm; repeated 10:30-11:30pm)

People are starting to notice...

Schumer and Harrison

“I want Stephen Harrison in Washington with me, to fight for the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn,” said Senator Charles Schumer during an October 31 press conference opposite breathtaking views in Staten Island’s Ft Wodsworth. “He will not be a rubberstamp, rather he will truly represent his constituents’ interests, on everything from protecting our country to protecting the rights of working families.”

Dems may be in for a surprise

via the NY Daily News;

Snubbed by state and national party leaders, Harrison picked up this year's Democratic script and ran with it on his own, raising a shoestring budget of just over $100,000 compared to Fossella's $1.3 million.

Building on the 2004 campaign by ex-Assemblyman Frank Barbaro, who won 40% of the vote against Fossella, Harrison has been hammering away at Fossella's connection to President Bush's least popular positions - notably, the Iraq war, the privatization of Social Security and the weakening of gun control laws.


Although Democratic leaders left Harrison to press these issues alone, all indications suggest the challenger's barbs have Fossella worried. Weeks after ignoring Harrison's demands to debate, Fossella abruptly reversed course and agreed to five debates - at which Harrison, a trial lawyer, turned in devastatingly strong performances and posted video highlights on his campaign Web site.


In other words, Harrison the long shot has put a once-secure GOP seat in play.

Dems who slighted this aggressive long-shot candidate may be in for a surprise next week.

Shortly after Rep. Anthony Weiner got involved in the race, he stated "I just hope this isn't one of those things where the day after we're kicking ourselves that we didn't do more to help him." This seems precisely to be what is happening. I have to go back and look over the FEC filings but I don't believe Weiner even maxed out his own contribution abilities for Harrison. City Council member de Blasio has not stepped up at all for this campaign to date, and neither has Rep. Rangel who initially was seen as supporting de Blasio should he have gotten into the race. The sad part of all of this as Mr. Louis points out is that Harrison is scaring Fossella on just a fraction of his budget. If he was up against Harrison with Barbaro's warchest this race would probably be followed nationally as a toss up at worst.

Monday, October 30, 2006

NY Times endorses Hyer-Spencer

via NY Times;

State Assembly 60th District (Staten Island Eastern Shore, Bay Ridge in Brooklyn). Matthew Mirones’s decision to leave the Assembly has given Janele Hyer-Spencer, a Democrat, another crack at the seat she competed for two years ago.

Her Republican opponent, Anthony Xanthakis, a partner in an insurance litigation law firm, did not respond to requests for an interview. Except for a few public appearances and the odd negative flyer about his opponent, Mr. Xanthakis, who served as counsel to Mr. Mirones, appears not to be mounting a very active campaign.

Ms. Hyer-Spencer, who resides in the Great Kills section of Staten Island, is a highly regarded, tough-minded lawyer and advocate on family issues. She is an admitted policy wonk who understands the minutia of local issues, including how to best win a cemetery for veterans on Staten Island. She has a record of standing up for what she believes, which should serve her constituents well. Ms. Hyer-Spencer wins our endorsement.

the Trifecta:
Janele Hyer-Spencer
Stephen Harrison
Matthew Titone

Sen. Schumer and Steve

Senator Charles Schumer will join Democratic Congressional candidate Steve Harrison, State Senate candidate Matthew Titone, and State Assembly candidate Janele Hyer-Spencer in a show in a 1:15 Oct 31 party solidarity press conference at the entrance to Fort Wadsworth, east end of Bay Street, near the Verrazano Bridge, Staten Island, NY.

The participants will be available for questions following the program.

Stephen Harrison
Janele Hyer-Spencer
Matthew Titone

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Vito's report card

Drum Major Institute evaluates each member of the U.S. House and Senate based on their 2005 votes on select legislation of significance to current and aspiring middle-class Americans.
grade: F

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America rating is based on this legislator's voting history on issues that affect US troops, Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, and military families.
grade: C+

Disabled American Veterns
grade: 3 out of 13

The Retired Enlisted Association, whose mission is: "To enhance the quality of life for uniformed services enlisted personnel, their families and survivors- including active components and all retirees; to stop the erosion of earned benefits through our legislative efforts, to maintain our esprit de corps, dedication and patriotism, and to continue our devotion and allegiance to God and Country."
grade: 33

American Veterans; "For almost 60 years, AMVETS has provided service and support to America’s veterans and their communities. This outreach effort takes many forms, from the professional advice that service officers offer on earned veterans benefits to our legislative efforts on Capitol Hill to the work done by hospital volunteers."
grade: 50 out of 100

At some point we can't keep promoting a guy who has failed America so terribly.

Vito opposes things

Rep. Vito Fossella in a recent NY1 interview proclaims his independence from the national party and the administration on issues that his constituents oppose. Well, except that little thing in Iraq. But who is really paying attention?

via NY1;

The long-time Republican says that stance is not an attempt to distance himself from the embattled Republican Party.

“I think I can break ways when some of the policies at the national level are not in the interest of my communities, so I'll continue to do that,” said Fossella.


On the war in Iraq, Fossella remains loyal to the Bush administration, arguing it's not time to remove the troops from Iraq. Fossella's Democratic rival, Steve Harrison, says for that reason and others he doesn't buy Fossella's attempt to position himself as an independent.

“Vito Fossella is someone that has been repeatedly voting with the president 89 percent of the time and what we're hearing from everybody out there is that they want to get us out of the war in Iraq and so they're looking to the Democrats and to Steve Harrison to take care of that,” Harrison said on MSNBC Tuesday.

NY Times endorses Titone

via NY Times

This contest to replace Senator John Marchi, who is retiring after 52 years, has been remarkable and commendable for its civility. Decorum aside, though, the two frontrunners, Andrew Lanza, one of only three Republicans in the 51-member City Council, and Matthew Titone, a Democrat and first-time candidate, have large differences.

In his four years representing Staten Island’s south shore in the City Council, Mr. Lanza has made a start towards relieving overcrowding but has otherwise failed to truly distinguish himself as a lawmaker. It is not easy to be a member of a small minority in the overwhelmingly Democratic council, as Mr. Lanza is. Still, given the opportunity to tilt at the majority, Mr. Lanza did not choose well; he was the only member from Staten Island to vote against two important gun control bills.

Representing the city as a Republican in the State Senate requires an aggressive willingness to stand up to the suburban and rural party leadership. Mr. Lanza is a likeable candidate, but he has not exhibited enough of what’s needed to be an independent force in Albany.

Mr. Titone, on the other hand, promises to join in the continuing and still-needed shake up of Albany. He seems well-equipped for the job. He built a successful law practice handling personal injury cases and civil litigation, often offering his services pro bono for needy cases.

A leader in promoting awareness, prevention and treatment for H.I.V./AIDS, he has developed a high-energy, idea-filled campaign, offering initiatives to address especially thorny problems like overburdened transportation, health care and schools. Mr. Titone exudes an eagerness to get to work, and we hope he gets the opportunity. We endorse him for the State Senate.

Matthew Titone for State Senate
previous post: Titone up in polls

Fossella didn't stand up to this administration

via New Castle News;

If you think President Bush is doing a fine job managing the war on terror, controlling the cost of government and generally making America and its people more secure and prosperous, you can re-elect the incumbents.

But if you -- like this newspaper -- are horrified at the incompetent, arrogant and downright delusional behavior of the Bush administration, change is absolutely crucial.


By any objective measure, the Bush administration has made a mess of things. And contrary to its claims, the world will be a far more dangerous place when this president's term ends in two years. The administration has failed miserably to unify the world against Islamic radicals, undercut the efforts of Islamic moderates and stood by as the real threat of nuclear proliferation has mushroomed in North Korea.

Meanwhile, the administration's true abilities were on display last year in the days leading up to -- and following -- Hurricane Katrina. And although the White House is now touting its economic success, its main claim to fame is a ballooning of the federal deficit.

It's easy to boost the economy in the short term when you're borrowing on future generations. What happens when the bill comes due? Despite some short-term success in trimming the deficit, the long-range figures are a looming disaster. And the Bush administration is doing nothing to address them.

But the administration is not alone in its manhandling of American domestic and foreign policy. A compliant, Republican-controlled Congress has gone along, with barely a peep of protest.

Some people, Rep. Vito Fossella included are wondering why a candidate like Stephen Harrison are showing the connections of the incumbent Fossella and the President, saying a Congressional race is not about the President's failures. As the above article points out a Congressional race is about whether or not those incumbents stood up to this administration in its many many mistakes; Iraq, Social Security, Katrina, or whether they sat by idly and did what the administration said instead of what their constituents wanted. If you think the President has been successful, by all means vote for Rep. Fossella, however if you are growing frustrated with its failures ask yourself what Rep. Fossella has done to makes things better. If you are unsure, maybe you should take a long look at Stephen Harrison.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Harrison gets NY Times Endorsement

In major news tonight, the NY Times has just released its latest round of endorsements saying;

Mr. Fossella, the only Republican in the city’s Congressional delegation, possesses a well-known name on Staten Island. But his 10 years in Congress have defined him as anything but the independent fighter for constituents that he claims to be in this campaign. He has been a real water-carrier for the Bush administration and the Republican leadership, staunchly backing the war in Iraq while at the same time denying health benefits to National Guard and Reserve members who make up much of the American force there.

The congressman, who declined an interview with The Times editorial board, has been unsympathetic to environmental concerns and has opposed a woman’s right to choose. He does his constituents no favors by his support for privatizing Social Security. He has voted to protect gun makers and sellers. While Mr. Fossella has lately sought funding to deal with health problems related to to the attacks of Sept. 11, he has largely been missing on important local issues. His Democratic colleague, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who represents the Sixth District, has often been left to advocate Staten Island’s many transportation needs, including the North Shore rail.

Mr. Fossella has offered only lame excuses for improperly using his campaign funds for skiing holidays in Vail (including lessons and equipment), as well as vacations in Florida — transgressions first reported by the Daily News. He has received donations from a lobbying firm with ties to Jack Abramoff. Earlier this year, he was fined a reported $60,000 for misusing his taxpayer-funded official mailing privileges.

He has also gone negative in a nasty way against his underfinanced Democratic opponent, Stephen Harrison. Voters should beware of any politician who tries to scare them, as Mr. Fossella has done, by pasting his opponent’s photo alongside Osama bin Laden’s.

Mr. Harrison is a lawyer who has not previously held public office and who entered the race when other more experienced Democrats demurred, believing Mr. Fossella was unbeatable. He deserves credit for making the stand, and is an attractive alternative to Mr. Fossella in his own right. Mr. Harrison has a presence in both sides of the district; he resides in Brooklyn, while his mother and sister live on Staten Island.

As chair of Community Board 10 in Brooklyn, he demonstrated leadership as he oversaw one of the city’s largest efforts to contain overdevelopment through rezoning. He has a good command of the issues, and a feel for the concerns of the district. Mr. Harrison surprised many with his passion and keen intelligence in a series of debates with Mr. Fossella. The distinctions could not be clearer. We endorse Mr. Harrison for Congress.

Titone up in polls

Bouldin over at Daily Gotham speculates as much;

Further down the ballot, the only question is whether Democrats retake the state Senate in 2006 or 2008. It's already the case that republican Senators just aren't being allowed to retire, and when they do – see the Staten Island race for Marchi's seat – the seat goes Democratic, as polls I've seen indicate will be the case. When the Senate flips, of course, it's over for the other side.

This is a larger article discussing the prospects of the damage to the Republican party due to the success of Democrats for state wide office and the prospects that Democrats will increase there 20 of 29 seat standing in Congressional seats. We approached the topic similarly in a prior post;

Should Vito lose this seat, one has to imagine he can lose any hopes of advancing his political career, be it mayoral aspirations or others. Not only would Republicans lose this seat, but it would cause major damage to the Republican party on Staten Island. This year we see Titone and Hyer-Spencer in tight races and causing trouble for Republicans. Should Vito lose, we could see a greater schism with the Republican and Conservative parties and that start to the downfall of the Republican leadership on the island.

Matthew Titone for State Senate

Fossella slandering Iraq Veterans

via IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America);

Rep. Vito Fossella of Staten Island received a C+ grade from IAVA after voting against health insurance for National Guard and Reserve troops, and against funding for the VA.

When asked about his record, he didn't explain his votes - instead his spokeman slandered IAVA to the local Staten Island paper.

If you believe in IAVA's nonpartisan mission, send a letter to Rep. Fossella asking him to explain his votes - and also why he gets a failing grade from Disabled American Veterans, the Retired Enlisted Association, and the American Veterans.

Harrison opposes overdevelopment in SI

via SI Advance;

"My opponent has been happy to let development happen without much oversight and call it someone else's responsibility," Harrison said at the corner of Van Duzer and Broad streets in Stapleton, across from a vast, multi-unit townhouse development. "Instead of bringing leadership to Staten Island, my opponent and other Republicans have brought weapons of mass construction."

Harrison, an attorney who took part in large rezoning efforts as a member of Brooklyn's Community Board 10, was joined by Assemblyman John Lavelle (D-North Shore), the borough Democratic chairman, and City Councilman Michael McMahon (D-North Shore).


While federal officials cannot change zoning laws, Harrison said there is much Congress can do to help alleviate the problems caused by overdevelopment, including congested roads and overcrowded schools.

If elected, Harrison said he would call for increased federal highway and school-construction funds. He also said the city should adopt a "like-for-like" zoning law, which would mandate that if a home is razed, the new residence be limited to the same size, footprint and density as the building it replaces.

Lavelle said Harrison presented a "refreshing view" of Congress' potential role in curbing overdevelopment.

"We need that level of help from the federal government," Lavelle said.

Tide turns on Fossella

via Brooklyn Papers;

Democrat Steve Harrison outdueled Rep. Vito Fossella (R-Bay Ridge) in a raucous final debate on Tuesday, capping a week in which Harrison’s campaign earned national recognition, and Democrats gained confidence in a candidate who has — at least until recently — had trouble gaining traction and much-needed campaign cash.

Also on Tuesday, Harrison received some national exposure, appearing on MSNBC, where he was interviewed by “Hardball” host Chris Matthews — and won praise from the tough-nosed anchorman, who ended the interview by saying, “Sir, you sound like a qualified candidate to me.”


At another point, after thanking a woman for her question about the 9-11 Commission, she responded by yelling, “Maybe you can answer it!”


Harrison admitted that the crowd’s reactions were “a little bit over the top,” but added, “In fairness, you’re looking at people who are extremely frustrated with the Bush administration and with the congressman’s failure to respond to questions directly.”

In other campaign developments, Fossella refused to comment on whether he plans to return the $10,000 donated to his campaign in 1998 by disgraced former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

Where is de Blasio?

On Thursday I mentioned that Council member Bill de Blasio has been sending out emails about his efforts to help Democrats win some House seats in NY and PA. I was rather critical since none of the emails to date have specifically promoted Stephen Harrison. Mr. de Blasio had no problems jumping into the endorsement and aid game in the Democratic primary for the NY-11 seat that Yvette Clarke won the nomination for.

The Democratic Primary is just days away! Want to help make a difference this election season? Hit the campaign trail with Team de Blasio!

Bill will be campaigning for Yvette Clarke this weekend and on Primary Day, September 12, in the critical race for the 11th Congressional District. If you can join him, call [removed]. We will find a time and location that is convenient for you. To find out more about Yvette, please visit her website: www.voteyvette. com.

--Friends of Bill de Blasio

So where are the emails, contributions and volunteer requests for the Democratic nominee of the race he almost jumped into? I don't want to spend time being critical of the party when there is so much to cover with Vito still, however one of the major disappointments is the lack of support from elected Democrats in this race. Too many of them seem to be looking out for their own future concerns and less about what is best for us right now; electing Stephen Harrison, and being one seat closer to a Democratic majority in the House.


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.

This was a letter from Mr. de Blasio on his decision not to seek the nomination for this race, back on April 11, 2005.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Fox News has bad news for Republicans


Finished on Wednesday, Fox News (perhaps not surprisingly) is the most favorable for the GOP. But it would be a real stretch to call it favorable. Bush's job approval rests at 40% (53% disapproval), which is unchanged since two weeks ago. The generic ballot creeps out a couple of points, as Democrats move into double digits in this poll as well, with an 11-point lead (49-38).

via Stu Rothenberg;

With the national environment being as it is - and given the last round of redistricting, which limits possible Democratic gains - Republicans probably are at risk to lose as few as 45 seats and as many as 60 seats, based on historical results. Given how the national mood compares to previous wave years and to the GOP's 15-seat House majority, Democratic gains almost certainly would fall to the upper end of that range.

The paucity of competitive districts limits Republican risk, but how much? Unfortunately, I don't have an answer. But if redistricting cuts that kind of wave by half, Democrats would gain between 22 and 30 seats next month. And if the new districts slice Democratic gains by a smaller but still significant one-third, Democrats would pick up from 30 to 45 seats.

Dangerously big waves can be very strong and very unpredictable. They can bring widespread destruction and chaos. Republicans now must hope that this year's midterm wave isn't as bad as national poll numbers suggest it could be, because those national numbers suggest a truly historic tidal wave.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Vote for our troops

This is a VoteVets ad targetting Rep. Gutknecht, but could just as easily be Rep. Fossella. Fossella voted against extending TRICARE health care coverage to National Guard and Reservists. Fossella voted against increasing pay $1,500 to our troops, while voting to increase his own salary. We don't need him back in DC, we need someone who will actually stand up for our troops and veterans.

219 seats!

via Pollster.com;

After a long wait and a lot of hard work by the entire Pollster team, we are proud to unveil our new scorecard for races for the U.S. House of Representatives. We introduce the scorecard showing 219 seats in the Democratic column and 193 in the Republican column, with 23 seats showing neither candidate with a statistically meaningful lead.

Chris Bowers at MyDD.com has this analysis of those numbers;

If the toss-ups split evenly, that would give Democrats either 230 or 231 seats. In a wave scenario, where toss-ups go heavily in favor of the advancing party, that would mean around 235 seats. No matter what, for district level data to show Demorats ahead outside the MoE in 219 seats, and Republicans ahead outside the MoE in only 193 seats, might actually put Democrats in a better electoral position than Republicans have experienced since 1950. It certianly forecasts Democratic control, with a very high probability.

Local Dems, much to gain, little contribution

I signed up for City Council member Bill de Blasio's campaign email update back in January when it appeared he might be jumping into the race for the Democratic nomination. A few days ago I received an email update letting me know Bill was working to get some Democrats elected to Congress;

Bill will be phone banking this Monday, October 23rd and next Monday, October 30th from 6pm-9pm at the Working Families Party in Brooklyn. See below for details on how you can join, or for alternate dates and times to get involved.

In addition, team de Blasio is planning a trip to suburban Philadelphia on Sunday, October 29th to campaign for Lois Murphy for Congress. To join, please contact Sharada at 917-767-2190.

The Working Families Party is an amazing group, and has even endorsed Stephen Harrison a while back. The problem with de Blasio's email though is he is promoting two events that are doing nothing for the race he contemplating joining. The WFP phone banking is reaching out to voters in NY20, 24, 25, 26, 29, all upstate races. update[via Steve from WFP: Local chapters are working on local races, and we're reaching out to voters all across the state.] So the phone banking may be reaching out to voters in the 13th. I do know that the Harrison campaign is phone banking on almost a daily basis from both Manhattan and the campaign offices directly for Harrison so I await Mr. de Blasio's participation and promotion of those as well

The second item he is promoting is an out of state canvassing effort in Pennsylvania. We need Democrats all over the country to win, and these are both commendable, however I have yet to see him lend any support to the Harrison campaign after toiling with the idea of running for that office. If it was good enough for him, and winnable then what has changed?

I have an email out to his campaign, and will gladly edit this should there be some major undertakings on his part in aiding Harrison, but I haven't seen anything yet. [note: it has been several days since I first wrote this and held off publishing hoping to hear something. I have yet to get a reply]

I see a $250 donation as potentially his only 2006 contribution. It was given to Yvette Clarke, during the primary race she won for the seat Rep. Major Owens was vacating. This is a safe Dem seat.

Vinny Gentile, another City Council member thought to at one time be considering jumping into this race has made a donation on July 31.

Assemblyman Lavelle made a donation on July 06. Being the Staten Island party leader this was expected, yet still notable.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Soldiers Appeal

via An Appeal for Redress;

As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.

via The Guardian;

Sgt Madden is making his opposition public less than two weeks before the midterm elections, in which the Republican party has been thrown on the defensive as public support for the war evaporates amid mounting US casualties and sectarian violence.

"The more informed I got, the more I opposed the war," he told the San Jose Mercury News. "The more people who died there, the longer we stayed there, the more I opposed the war. The more I know, the easier it is to support withdrawal."

If you are one of those voters who think the Iraq war is a pressing issue, but don't know enough about the situation to make an informed decision, why not listen to what our enlisted men and women have to say. Rep. Fossella wants them to 'stay the course' even though the President has now come out and said he may back down from that. Isn't it time we address the situation and remove our troops before any more unecessary injuries and death befall them. They deserve so much better than what this administration has done. Support our troops, vote for Stephen Harrison.


via Congress.org;

Rep. Vito Fossella is ranked 137 in Congress, but that drops to 196 instantly when the Democrats regain the majority after Novemeber elections. That is if he is still in office. The rankings are based on "power and the ability to be effective in Congress in 2006." He performs horribly in the legislation scoring, only garnering 2 out of 75 for his ability at various levels to push and get passed legislation. But you already knew that, seeing how he couldn't even get a resolution passed thanking the Pope. You probably also already know that if you are a resident in his district and have yet to see what he has done for you, and no having our Homeland Security funding slashed under his watch does not count.

Constituents lambaste Fossella

There definitely was no love lost last night between Fossella and his constituents, via the SI Advance;

The event at the Shore Hill Senior Center, hosted by the Bay Ridge Community Council in Brooklyn, was packed with more than 150 people, some of whom took the microphone more to lambaste Fossella (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) than to offer a query.

One woman screamed: Why aren't you representing your constituents? Another member of the audience lobbed profanities toward the front of the room when Fossella spoke.

Inappropriate Development on Staten Island

Congressional Candidate Steve Harrison leads contingent of prominent Democrats in addressing inappropriate development of Staten Island neighborhoods at Thursday, October 26, 2006; 2 pm press conference
State Assembly Members John Lavelle and Michael Cusick, and Councilman Michael McMahon to attend

STATEN ISLAND, NY – Democratic Congressional Candidate Steve Harrison (NY-13, Staten Island, Bklyn) will be joined by Assembly Members John Lavelle and Michael Cusick, and Council Member Michael McMahon at the intersection of Van Duzer and Broad Street in a Thursday, October 26, 2006, 2 pm press conference on inappropriate development in Staten Island’s neighborhoods. Harrison is running against Vito Fossella, New York City’s only Republican House Member.

Mr. Harrison and guests will be available for questions.

Debate analysis

Last night was the first debate I was able to attend, and it was well worth it for various reasons. The debate, like some of the others had numerous candidates and incumbents of various offices talking to average citizens. Like most debates and political on goings in the city, the audience was overwhelmingly already supportive of a candidate and did nothing more than cheer and jeer. To say there were very few undecideds last night, and probably at all of these events is probably an understatement.

Harrison performed well and he had to. Obviously there is bias in my reporting of this, but he won the debate. The problem is who really was effected by it in the end? Unless residents read about it in the paper, the audience it reached is limited. Fossella, who most probably have not seen around those parts except for a few publicity events (VA Hospital, Fort Hamilton) really did very little for his image by attending this debate, and that is probably the story across the board. He does better showing up and losing a debate few see than not showing up and losing edge when the papers report he refused to show. Also keep in mind this was a Brooklyn debate and Harrison will win here.

Fossella made it clear that he is not running on national issues, and that is smart of him. He spent as much time talking about the seawall as he did about Social Security. His talking point of 'fighting them there instead of here' referring to Al Queda or maybe Iraq (?) was well received. To counter this Harrison and Democrats need something that resonates. While Harrison's policy is probably favorable to most voters, the condensed talking point is hard to find. Although the approach of linking Energy Policy and Foreign Affairs, i.e. we are in Iraq because of our reliance on oil, does hit home the point in a nice rebuttal.

I wish I saw Barbaro and Fossella debate for comparison, but that never happened. Also one curious side note was the Community Council moderating. They limited the audience to four questions, while there were easily 15 more people waiting in line. Conversely, following this debate was the debate for the 60th Assembly seat, with Janele Hyer-Spencer, and while I did not catch the beginning I walked back in to hear the moderator deciding 'only 5 more questions'. For whatever reason they really botched the audience access during the Congressional debate, which left me with the feeling it was intentional. While the intimacy of the Community Board setting is desirable, there needs to be a more professional approach for a debate of this magnitude.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Steve, Janele, Vinny

The Fifth Debate

[I will try to more accurately update this once I get a chance to watch video of the debate]

The following is what I was able to transcribe as the debate was occuring. Do not consider this verbatim, however you can consider this the jist of tonight's debate. The debate took palce at the Bay Ridge Community Council meeting. The BRCC outlined the rules of the discussion. All but a handful of the attendees appeared to have favored a candidate prior to the debates. It turned into more of a rallying of the base then a debate.

Each candidate had 5 minutes to give an opening statement.

Fossella: (I was just setting up my computer so this description is lacking)
VA hospital
Subway station 86th street

• Oversaw (?) largest rezoning in Brooklyn, drastically reduced over development
• President Bush has backed off of Stay the course, wants to be flexible, Vito's whole campaign is now in trouble because of this. He (Bush?) recognizes what is going on over there is wrong.
• Great quandry for Vito, agree with President and admit he is a Republican or disagree with the President and be the last person in the US to agree that we must leave Iraq
• Race about credibility and trust
• On Social Security President Vito Fossella said Bush is on the right side of history, 2 years later wrote a letter to his constituents saying he opposes privitization of Social Security

question 1: Rep. Fossella why won't answer questions from AARP?
• His great-grandfather was a congressman who voted to establish Social Security
• We must ensure that Social Security it around for our kids, grand kids (this got a large amount of applause)
• Helped create Medicare Prescription drug Plan

• In 2002 Vito favored privitization, after finding out 70% in community didn't support it, he wrote a letter stating otherwise, he is for it, he is against it, he doesn't know what to do with it. Harrison knows what to do with it, it is safe until 2042 without touching it.

question 2: H.R. 5429 (need to verify the HR#) additonal drilling in Alaska (essentially asking Fossella why he voted for it)
• This country is very dependent on our energy, it is a question of supply and demand. The more the demand shrinks the higher the price grows. The reality is we need to find new sources of energy. We need safe and secure and environmental friendly ways to do so. Residents should not pay through the nose for energy.

• Oppose drilling in ANWAR.
• Oil prices will always go up and never come down. We need a plan like JKF's moonshot, we need oil indenpendence in 10 years.
• It is a security issue.

question 3: Directed to Vito, 2 weeks ago said you voted in favor of 9/11 commission, why did you lie to us? (copy of House resolution that says he voted against)
• Serious question is what happened on 9/11. (interuption) "I gave you the curtouesy to ask the question now you need to listen to my answer."
• Oppose efforts to weaken our efforts to go after terrorists.
• Supports interrogation so that another 9/11 doesn't happen.(applause)
• Congress was evaluating a joint commission on 9/11 commission, when I felt it was sufficient I decided to vote for it.

• Congressman 3 times you denied voting against the commission, you voted for the report after it came in. This race is about misleading and distorting facts. I believe you owe an explanation.

Moderator: Time for 1 more question due to time constraints.

question 4: I missed the question, but it was about money Fossella has taken from corrupt politians
Vito: missed answer, lot's of heckling. Basically denied any wrong doing and sat down.

• Hastert, Foley, Elmo, Vail, Vegas, take a second and make up your own mind.

Closing Remarks:
Harrison: 5 debates in 2 weeks, 2 in one day, unprecedented, thanks Vtio for his participation, but says "I think I should win". I am looking at the people of Brooklyn. Vito represents the smallest part of his district to allow him to stay in office. Fossella brought $1 million in transportation for the island. I will do that too. Vito has gotten less than 1/10th of 1% of the money for Brooklyn that he has gotten for Staten Island. If you want more than 1/10th of 1% of a candidate vote for me.

Vito: Thanks community council. I respect people of Bay Ridge. During the course of the campaign it is about the people going to to poll to vote for people who will effect their lives in positive ways. I fight for local issues, keep the Brooklyn VA open, Fort Hamilton, taking street vendors off corner, $100,000 for street lighting for walking on the street. On issues that matter most like issues of national security. I will take the fight to enemy so they won't attack us again. Harrison will limit those tools so we have to fight with one arm behind our back. (lot's of booing, although directed at Fossella for that comment) The Bay Ridge Community Council represents great things, clearly there are some non Bay Ridge people here tonight (a parting shot in response to audience heckling).

MSNBC video

thanks to Bluespotblog;

Fossella fails our troops

On Sunday we covered Rep. Fossella's C+ grade from the IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America). Just a recap, his C+ ties him for 19th in just New York state Congressional rankings. Only three Reps. in New York received a lower score than his.

Apparently this is not the type of news Rep. Vito Fossella wants following him around in this already tight Congressional race. Yesterday the Staten Island Advance ran a story on his unhappiness with the rating.

"Especially in the election season, politicians stand up and talk about how they support the troops, but the votes don't always match the rhetoric," said Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq veteran who is founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

The group analyzed legislation in Congress since Sept. 11, 2001, including 169 House measures. For each one they felt affected troops, veterans or military families, they took a position and graded lawmakers based on the votes.


Matt Mika, campaign manager for Fossella (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn), shot back that the congressman has fought on behalf of the Brooklyn Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the veterans' outpatient clinic in Bloomfield, and has staunchly supported members of the armed forces.

We just have to go back to video from a recent debate to see this hitting close to home when Rep. Fossella is questioned about voting against extending TRICARE to Reservists and National Guard members.

Despite his claims he never voted against TRICARE, we know this;

Rep. Fossella opposed expanding access to the military's TRICARE health insurance program to thousands of Reservist and National Guard members, even though 20 percent of all Reservists do not have health insurance, and 40 percent of Reservists aged 19 to 35 lack health coverage.

HR 1815 , Vote #221, 5/25/2005

It seems as though Rep. Vito Fossella likes to think he supports our troops until it comes time to actually support our troops. Keeping them away from their families for extended terms of service is not what I would call 'support' and neither is failing to introduce legislation to adequately protect them and provide armor. I guess he thinks it is enough just to propose mail subsidies for families to send mail to soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan and nothing else.

Rep. Fossella, if you don't like your grade do something about it and actually support our troops instead of crying to the teacher that it was unfair.


Stephen Harrison will be appearing on MSNBC today, approxiamately around the 3pm hour (3-4pm). Schedule the Tivo if you have it. Harrison is one of about 15 political guests today in a series on Battleground Districts. Just to show how serious this is, the other guests are Sen. Bayh, Sen. Dole, Rep. Sherrod Brown (Ohio Senate nominee), Rep. Ford (Tennessee Senate nominee), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI Senate nominee), Rep. Jack Murhta... you get the picture. This isn't a list of political wannabes, this is a who's who of nominees shaking up their races this year.

Also tonight, is the last of 5 debates. Stephen Harrison has done amazingly well in all of them so far and is really making Rep. Fossella regret agreeing to this. You really have to wonder how poor Fossella's poll numbers are that he hasn't backed out of any of these yet.

Shore Hill
Senior Center
9000 Shore Rd, Brooklyn
7:30 pm

Monday, October 23, 2006

Harrison on MSNBC Tuesday

Democratic Congressional Candidate Steve Harrison to appear on MSNBC
Interviewed at 3pm by Hardball host Chris Matthews

STATEN ISLAND/BROOKLYN, NY – Democratic Congressional Candidate Steve Harrison (NY-13, Staten Island/Bklyn) is scheduled to be a guest on MSNBC’s “Decision 2006: Battleground America — The Homestretch,” on Tuesday, October 24. His appearance is part of the MSNBC special, an all-day look at critical races across the country. Harrison will be on during the 3pm hour, anchored by “Hardball” host Chris Matthews. Harrison is running against New York City’s only Republican House member, Vito Fossella.

Chris Matthews isn’t the only pundit to start paying attention to the much tighter than expected NY’s 13th Congressional District race. On Friday, October 20, Congressional Quarterly changed the race’s status.

CQ reporter Marie Horrigan wrote, “With New York 13 hardly immune to the political atmosphere facing Republicans in general this year, CQPolitics.com has changed its rating on the race to Republican Favored from Safe Republican.”

Harrison welcomed the news. “As we always knew it would, this race is gaining momentum. People are recognizing that Vito Fossella, supposedly our representative, does not represent the interests or values of his constituents.”

Harrison is very busy on Oct 24. In addition to MSNBC on Oct 24, Harrison will participate in the fifth of five scheduled debates with opponent Fossella that have highlighted the differences between the two candidates. The final Harrison/Fossella debate, hosted by the Bay Ridge Community Council, will take place at 7:30 pm, October 24 at the Shore Hill Senior Center, 9000 Shore Road in Brooklyn.

About Steve Harrison: Steve Harrison is a community leader and activist running for Congress to serve the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn. He was the chair of Brooklyn’s Community Board 10 and has held key leadership positions in organizations such as Brooklyn Remembers and the American Heritage Democratic Organization.

For more information, visit www.harrison06.com

Fossella supports Torture

via NYSDC;

Rep. Vito Fossella, usually a staunch supporter, sharply scolded President Bush yesterday after the president reversed himself and embraced Republican Sen. John McCain's measure banning torture of prisoners.

Earlier this week, the House approved a resolution supporting McCain's bill by a vote of 308 to 122, with more than 100 Republicans voting in favor.

Fossella (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) voted against the resolution.

McCain's bill would prohibit "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of anyone held in U.S. custody.

Curiously after I came across this in my research I see Marc has covered it as well over at blue spot blog. From Marc;

So the same argument Fossella is making against Harrison, he has made against Sen. McCain, a man who is likely to be his party's nominee for president in 2008.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Video: Stephen Harrison (D) in all his awesomeness

via Bluespotblog;

55% want Dem majority

via Newsweek;

The poll found terrorism came fourth as the "most important" issue to voters, at just 13 percent; behind Iraq (31 percent), the economy (18 percent), and health care (16 percent). And a solid majority of Americans want the Democrats to take over Capital Hill, 55 percent, versus 32 percent who want the GOP to retain control--a 23-point margin.

via MSNBC;

Perhaps more revealing, only 16 percent now approve of the job Congress is doing -- its lowest mark since 1992.

What's more, in this latest poll, just 32 percent of respondents see the Republican Party in a positive light, while 49 percent view it negatively.

Fossella gets C+ from IAVA

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America’s Action Fund has rated members of Congress based on votes cast on veterans and troops issues. IAVA gave Rep. Vito Fossella a C+ rating. Not bad if it were Calculus, not very good at all considering he was voting on issues relating to our troops. The C+ is tied for 19th (with a handful of other Reps), with only 3 scoring worse.

This shouldn't be all that surprising considering Vito voted against extending health care coverage to our troops;

Rep. Fossella opposed expanding access to the military's TRICARE health insurance program to thousands of Reservist and National Guard members, even though 20 percent of all Reservists do not have health insurance, and 40 percent of Reservists aged 19 to 35 lack health coverage.

HR 1815 , Vote #221, 5/25/2005

You can't support our troops and Fossella.

Saturday, October 21, 2006



The war in Iraq also continues to be a drag on Republicans and the White House. In the poll, a whopping 68 percent say they feel less optimistic about how things are going there, compared with only 20 percent who feel more optimistic. That's a significant shift from June, when voters were evenly split on this question.

But you don't have to see the polling results from MSNBC to understand this. Simply go to the GOP's own website, and you will see the last time they have 'good news' from Iraq is August 28th, that is 55 days ago. When Rep. Vito Fossella and his party pushing this war can't even find any good news to promote, you realize things aren't going well. Harrison has it right on his Iraq policy statements.

Video: Janele Hyer-Spencer

thanks to Bluespotblog;

When will victory be achieved?

"The President must have a frank discussion with the American people as to what our military's mission is, when victory will be achieved and how it will be achieved."

Vito Fossella, 1999

Friday, October 20, 2006

Esquire endorses Harrison

District 13
Vito Fossella (R)
Stephen A. Harrison (D)
Fossella's moderate-to-conservative values square well with his Staten Island district, but recent allegations of misuse of campaign funds ($53,000 spent on family vacations among them) raise serious questions.
Esquire endorses: Harrison

CQPolitics upgrades the race

via CQPolitics;

Yet despite this successful track record, Fossella has felt the need to go vigorously on the offensive against an underfunded Democratic candidate, attorney Steve Harrison, an unusual tactic for an incumbent expecting a landslide.

With New York 13 hardly immune to the volatile political atmosphere facing Republicans in general this year, CQPolitics.com has changed its rating on the race to Republican Favored from Safe Republican.


All the same, there is the slight chance Harrison could threaten an upset in such an advantageous year for the Democrats. “Anything can happen,” Sheinkopf said. “He’s working hard and he’s hitting the bricks.”

To the volunteers and staffers and to Steve himself, this is why we do it.

Looks like the NYTimes has picked up the story.

Fossella attacks President's lack of strategy for military victory.


"I have a responsibility to all Americans as we make these difficult decisions. But [the] President has failed the test of leadership since this military action began. In the past, I have supported the President as Commander in Chief in military actions against Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq and Yugoslavia. But in this matter, he has avoided articulating a strategy that will ensure victory, prevent a nightmarish quagmire or provide permanent security...

The President has a responsibility to articulate America's long-term strategy before placing even one soldier in harm's way. He has asked the Congress and the American people to follow his lead, but he has shrouded in darkness where that road will take us. Leading military and foreign policy experts have questioned why the Administration won't define the mission and what plans are in place for us to withdraw."

Fossella said that after only six weeks of military action, the American people are already seeing the fallout of the Administration's ambiguous strategy and failure to plan for victory.

"...It begs the questions of whether the Administration was caught off guard or of it lacks a clear vision of how we will wage and win this war."

Fossella said Congress has a responsibility to the American people to provide a check on the President's ability to unilaterally escalate the military action.

"It would be unwise for Congress to issue the President a blank check to wage war," Fossella said. "We learned only to well the dangers of gradual escalation. The 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution started a bombing campaign against North Vietnam that resulted in an 11 year quagmire, over 57,000 Americans killed in combat and some 600,000 American ground troops. That resolution became President Johnson's blank check to troop waves of new soldiers into combat. To many Americans, the war ... bears striking similarities to Vietnam. The President must have a frank discussion with the American people as to what our military's mission is, when victory will be achieved and how it will be achieved."

This of course is from April 30, 1999, when Rep. Fossella attacked then President Clinton on the NATO led war in Serbia. If only Clinton were still President so that Fossella could realize what a colossal failure this administration is and how disastrous of a situation they have gotten us into. The absolute hypocrisy to attack the 'ambiguous strategy' of 1999 and have no criticism of the war in Iraq today is is disgusting at the very least. This after numerous military leaders in our forces and our allied forces have vociferously condemned the President's failure to have a plan and successfully protect our forces. Fossella is a failure who can't even pass floor resolutions about a postal stamp, so I expect international policy and military related legislation is too complicated for him to understand.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Vito proposes doing nothing

A policy commission, whose work has been endorsed by the President himself, is about to release a proposal on our military forces in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, which should cause some trouble for not just the President, but our very own Rep. Vito Fossella. Analysis of the commission's not yet released suggestions is supplied by the Times Online;

A high-level panel set up to advise the White House on Iraq is to propose radical changes to US policy including the large-scale withdrawal of US troops, it has been reported.

The commission, which is headed by James Baker, the former Secretary of State under the first President Bush, will recommend two options which would effectively represent reversals of US policy.

One of these, called "Redeploy and Contain", would see the phased withdrawal of US troops to bases outside Iraq where they could be deployed against terrorist organisations anywhere in the region.

Now all of a sudden after Republicans like Sen Hagel and Rep. Shays suggested withdawing troops from Iraq, a policy commission led by Republicans will call for 'redeployment', or in other words an exit strategy and troop withdraw. This can't sit well with Fossella, who though lacking in any foreign relations proposals or Iraq policy has maintained the Republican status quo line of 'staying the course.' But you don't have to take my word for it, or Vito's lack of word on it, we can look at transcripts of his public talks, such as this one from CNN's Crossfire;

FOSSELLA: No, I think that clearly we have to stay the course in Iraq. Nobody said this job was going to be easy, including the president of the United States.

FOSSELLA: The president of the United States, as he said a couple of weeks ago in his press conference, believes that the United States must stay the course.


And we will stay the course and until the job is done. And, ultimately, not only will the Iraqi people have the same freedoms that we enjoy here in America to pick their own leaders, but we can rest assured that there will be a stable democracy in the Middle East that will help us and others bring peace and stability and security to the American people.

And here is what the President's commission will most likely have to say on the matter;

Crucially, a third option on Iraq, entitled "Stay the Course, Redefine the Mission", appeared to gain less interest from the panel according to the LA Times, with members reportedly agreeing that change had to be made.

"It's not going to be 'stay the course,'" the newspaper quotes one participant as saying. "The bottom line is, (current policy) isn't working. There's got to be another way."

Harrison has supported a plan to withdraw our troops in a manner and on a schedule that would provide for their safety. Last year Rep. Murtha (D-PA), a reknoun military veteran called for a troop withdraw and redeployment, saying;

I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted -- this is a British poll reported in the Washington Times -- over 80 percent of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition forces and about 45 percent of Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified.

I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis. I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid-December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice: The United States will immediately redeploy -- immediately redeploy.

Meanwhile our own uncompromising Fossella says a "cut and run" approach would embolden terrorists and "destabilize" a fledgling democracy in Iraq." (SI Advance). Will he back down from this position and change his mind after realizing the Congressionally established commission is going to recommend a plan that completely debunks his 'stay the course' tiresome line? We already have seen him embarrassed on his desire to privatize Social Security and change his stance, so Iraq can't be too far behind. Oh course those of us who know Vito's plan for Iraq won't get our hopes up.

Internal polling woes for Republicans

via TPM;

Did the NRCC tip their hand? The NRCC dropped $163,000 into the PA 4 race -- Hart (R) v. Altmire (D) -- after spending a little under $11,000 on a poll. It sounds like they didn't like what they heard from that poll.

See it is not crazy to think that Fossella is not releaseing his poll he had conducted in August, because the numbers don't look good for him. In fact it is happening all over the country. Republicans are waking up to their own internal polling and not liking what they see. Because of that they are debating, they are attacking, they are realizing they have to campaign just to have a chance at keeping their seat. PA-04 really isn't a race on most people's radar with the 06, 07, 08 and 10th districts grabbing all of the media attention. It is happening in that district and it is happening here.

If you are looking to get involved I am sure the Harrison campaign wants to hear from you;

Staten Island H.Q.
370-A Forest Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10301

Brooklyn H.Q.
544 Bay Ridge Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11209

Harrison event tonight in Bay Ridge

Rock the Vote! A special fundraiser for Steve Harrison
Staring The Phoneys
Featuring former members of Crispy Brown, The Jesse Malin Band, and The Intruders
8:00pm, this Thursday, October 19th
Kopperfields, 8910 5th Avenue, Bay Ridge

Google Maps

When in panic mode

thanks to Daily Gotham;

"... and when a Democrat says they are different we run an ad of him with BIN LADEN!"

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Smell the panic?

Fossella orders a poll, and refuses to release the results.
A day later he agrees to four debates.
He then agrees to a fifth debate.
He didn't debate his challenger in 2004.
Fossella attacks Harrison's policy issues, instead of ignoring his challenger.
Fossella starts dropping local Democratic names in his talking points, claiming his bipartisan nature.
Fossella pays to have a commercial produced.

Tonight I came home and found a redstate.com article referencing Fossella in my RSS reader. Redstate essentially is the leading national conservative blog, meaning it has no business covering this race. This race any other day can't even make its radar, let alone be close enough to throw rocks at it, and that is with an incumbent Republican.

Redstate went after Harrison on taxes, which is nothing to be concerned about. However did preview a direct mail piece Fossella is going to send out on Harrison raising taxes and prompted readers to throw some money at this race.

If you didn't think this race was close, wake up, this just made the viability of this pick up jump up a tier or two.

Show Harrison some love, or if you prefer make Vito sweat a little: donate

DCCC 40+ seat pickup?

via DCCC;

Democrats said private polls have convinced top party officials that they could pick up 40 or more seats -- nearly double their internal projections from a week ago -- if they spend enough money on television advertising for long-shot races...Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) has privately signed off on targeting a new group of GOP incumbents who were once considered safe for reelection, starting with Rep. Gil Gutknecht in rural Minnesota, officials said...The DCCC is likely to go deep into debt, perhaps topping the $11 million deficit it racked up in 2004. The committee can borrow as much as a bank is willing to lend. The other option is to take money out of Republican districts that the party is confident it is almost certain to win.

Groups like the DNC and DCCC are taking out loans and going into debt, not because of lack of fundraising, but because of the plethora of races to fund, a problem that usually does not concern these groups. The choice is yours on whether you want to send Harrison to DC to join the majority and fix the screw ups of the past six or so years, or do you secretly want another two years of this district getting nothing. Think about it, sleep on it if you need to.

More Republican Page Scandals?

via MSNBC;

Federal prosecutors in Arizona have opened a preliminary investigation of a camping trip Congressman Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., took 10 years ago that included two teenage congressional pages, a Justice Department spokesman told NBC News. NBC News first reported on the camping and rafting trip on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Justice Department in Washington said that the U.S. attorney in Arizona has started a "preliminary assessment" of the trip, after an unidentified source made allegations about the congressman's behavior on the expedition.

And yet again Fossella took money from another dangerous fellow Republican House member. This is starting to get old. Just give back all of the money you have taken Vito, it will save me from having to do all of these FEC searches.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cook report says 30+ seat House gain for Dems

via Cook Report

That said, this is without question the worst political situation for the GOP since the Watergate disaster in 1974. I think a 30-seat gain today for Democrats is more likely to occur than a 15-seat gain, the minimum that would tip the majority. The chances of that number going higher are also strong, unless something occurs that fundamentally changes the dynamic of this election. This is what Republican strategists' nightmares look like.

A 30+ seat gain means that seats once considered longshots will flip to the Democratic challengers. It also means that there will be a few shocking suprises where Democrats will be sending incumbent Republicans to the unemployment line, or more realistically high paying lobbyist roles. This race is a lot closer than Vito wants to admit. He agrees to debates. He paying for advertising. He is attacking Harrison's proposals. He has an internal poll he commissioned that he has refused to release.

Losing Christian support

via Ekklesia

Simon Barrow, co-director of the UK Christian think tank Ekklesia, which works for conflict transformation strategies in place of violence, has welcomed General Sir Richard Dannatt's "sane and balanced remarks".

Added Barrow: "The reality is that military people are often much more sanguine about war policies than gung-ho civvies and politicians. Mr Blair should listen to his army chief, just as he should have listened to the churches when they told him that an Iraq war would be catastrophic and that there were credible alternatives to armed adventurism."


The Army Chief told the BBC yesterday that he intends to "speak up for what is right for the Army". A convinced Christian, he has been an officer of the Soldier's and Airmen's Scripture Readers Association, and Vice President of The Officers' Christian Union.

So we have lost the head of the British army and our own allies (i.e. Coalition of the Willing), and now we are losing the religious sects that possibly once supported this administration.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Harrison's belief in the Constitution

This November has shaped up to be a battle of change versus more of the same. It has become a race of supporters of corruption versus those who want honesty in government. But there is a larger fight that is not D's versus R's, and instead is a struggle for the values of the Constitution versus the values of the Patriot Act. Is there any larger of a national issue to scare your opponent than the Constitution?

via the Courier-Life;

However, Harrison went on, “I am a good and patriotic American. I always have been and I always will be, and I will go anywhere to get Osama bin Laden. But, I will also fight to the death for the American Constitution, and one thing I will never tolerate is when a congressman, a powerful man, puts a picture of Osama bin Laden and connects it with me, and tells the people of this community that a pillar of this community supports Osama bin Laden. That is despicable. It is over the line.”

Indeed, contended Harrison, the sort of piece put together by Fossella’s campaign actually becomes an object lesson as to why the legislation passed recently by Congress is so dangerous to the American way of life and American values.

“That is the reason why I am afraid of torture,” he told Fossella. “It is precisely the reason why I do not support the terrorist act that you now support. Because this is how it starts.

“I can now be declared, by virtue of this, to be an enemy combatant,” Harrison went on. “Is that what you believe of the people in here who disagree with you, that they should be connected to Osama bin Laden, looked at as enemy combatants, and after they are declared enemy combatants by George Bush without any oversight by the court, they can then be brought into incarceration forever, and they can be aggressively interrogated, which is a euphemism for torture, and then when they are tortured – that could be me, under the circumstances –you can use the words I speak under torture to convict me for whatever crime and put me away?

“Is that what you want, congressman, for the United States of America?” Harrison persisted. “I don’t. I am a person who absolutely believes in the war on terror. I believe we have to surveillance. I do believe in wiretaps. I believe all those things must be done to protect the American people. But they must be done in the context of the American Constitution and American values.”

Republicans not voting?

via Tom Wrobleski's blog;

In a recent piece of campaign lit for Rep. Vito Fossella (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn), voters are cautioned against supporting his Democratic opponent - or skipping a trip to the polls all together.

The phrase, which precedes an attack on the Brooklyn attorney Fossella is facing, reads in part: "If you vote for Steve Harrison for Congress, or don't vote at all..."

Is someone worried that GOP foot soldiers might not be encouraged to march on Nov. 7?

Again more indications the Rep. Vito Fossella is not comfortably cruising to re-election like he expected.

Weak Republicans = Independents

via Survey USA;

In all four of these districts, we observe significant movement away from the Republican incumbent and towards the Democratic challenger, with the Republican's lead decreasing by between 9 and 13 points. Furthermore, all four districts show a shift in the party distribution of likely voters, with the Republican-Democrat difference changing towards Democrats by between 4 and 11 points. Two possible explanations for this shift are:

1) Republicans are becoming less likely to vote, and Democrats are becoming more likely to vote;

2) Some "weak Republicans" are now identifying themselves as Independent, while some left-leaning Independents are now identifying themselves as Democrats.

It is unclear at this time which of these explanations is more significant, or how persistent the shift will be. But the consistency of the pattern suggests that the movement in these 4 contests may be driven by a nationwide trend affecting all House races, rather than by factors specific to the individual districts.

While this excerpt wasn't referring to the NY13 race specifically, it is not a far fetch to apply their findings. After all Rep. Vito Fossella started running away from his Republican party and declaring himself an Independent months ago.

Bowling for Titone

Join Matthew Titone, Candidate for NYS Senate 24th District in:

Bowling For Change, A Bowl-a-thon Fundraiser

October 22, 2006 8-10pm

Rab's Country Lanes 1600 Hylan Boulevard Staten Island , New York 10305 $21 (including shoe rental)

Please RSVP by Thursday October 19 toinfo@titone2006.com or by calling (718) 979-1434

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Foley, Hastert, Fossella Letter to the Editor

There is a great LTE piece from the SI Advance on Sunday confronting Rep. Vito Fossella and his continued support of Speaker of the House Rep. Hastert despite his poor leadership over the Foley scandal;

Rep. Vito Fossella really did it this time. Now he is defending House Speaker Denny Hastert and saying Hastert should remain as speaker. The same speaker who protected child predator Republican Rep. Mark Foley. Fossella claims Hastert did not know.

Well, Vito here are the facts!
Fact: GOP staff, working for Republican Speaker Denny Hastert, warned the page class of 2001-2002 to stay away from Foley, five years ago.

Fact: Former chief of staff to GOP Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY), Kirk Fordham, says he warned Hastert's chief of staff of Foley's behavior three years ago. Whether or not you believe Fordham, his testimony is consistent with the other facts showing that the Republicans knew about Foley's behavior long before last week.

Fact: Both Reps. John Boehner, the Republican House Majority Leader, and Tom Reynolds, both say they told Dennis Hastert personally about the Foley issue months ago. Hastert says Boehner is lying. So one of the two most powerful Republicans in the House is lying about an investigation into a child sex predator. That deserves a separate investigation right there.

Fact: Hastert's staff was informed of the Foley e-mails a year ago, but Hastert would like us to believe his staff simply never told him that a member of Congress, a member of his leadership team, was under investigation for preying sexually on young children -- children whom Hastert was responsible for.

Vito Fossella should stop protecting those who defend child predators. Then again, Fossella also defended Tom DeLay, swears he did not know Jack Abranoff, sees nothing wrong with lavish vacations on campaign funds and says stay the course in Iraq.

Someone has been in D.C. a bit too long, or simply lost complete touch with reality.

Ney Still in Congress

via CNN;

Rep. Bob Ney pleaded guilty Friday in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling investigation, the first lawmaker to confess to crimes in an election-year scandal that has stained the Republican-controlled Congress and the Bush administration.


Appearing before Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle on charges of conspiracy and making false statements, Ney acknowledged taking trips, tickets, meals and campaign donations from Abramoff in return for official actions on behalf of his clients.

Rep. Bob Ney is still serving as a member of Congress, while Congress is in recess. Despite pleading guilty, he has not resigned his seat. He has dropped his bid for re-election, so he officially will be out of Congress by January. However the thought that the Republicans have allowed him to stay in an elected office, and continue to receive the benefits of his office is dispicable. Rep. Vito Fossella, who was caught taking money from Ney and forced to return it, has yet to call for Ney's immediate resignation nor has he asked for Congress to take any action to remove him. Then again with his track record do you really think he could get that passed?

Torture Legislation

[note: another great guest blogger is joining us today]

by: Jude

Senator John McCain, a Veteran and former Prisoner of War, and Gen. Colin Powell, have both been quite vocal in speaking out against President Bush's torture legislation. As the wife of an Operation Iraqi Freedom III Combat Veteran I am horrified that Congressman Fossella would dismiss the wise guidance and military experience of two highly decorated combat veterans in regards to this matter. Clearly the President, like our Congressman, who never served a day of combat in their lives, does not understand the severity of the issues at hand that will ultimately be most damaging to our soldiers, let alone our credibility as a powerful democracy. As I write this letter, American soldiers are under investigation for allegedly committing acts of torture overseas involving detainees in their care. These soldiers, whose lives and the lives of their families are irreparably harmed due to their actions, are under investigation for the very same actions Congressman Fossella and President Bush endorse. How can an elected official support the torture of detainees and at the same time allow our American soldiers to rot in a military prison who did just that? Any elected official who supports the torture of detainees, which often results in misinformation and a proclamation to the world that if its ok for Americans to torture foreigners, its ok for foreigners to torture Americans, does not support our Country's most basic of principles. Not to mention, currently a returning soldier often waits 2 1/2 months for an appointment with a VA Mental Health Professional to treat their crippling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) issues. What's to become of the mental health and well being of our soldiers who doled out torture only to come home and suffer for the rest of their lives? From where I'm sitting, they're being tossed aside and forgotten about by our own Government and elected officials who wave flags at parades and vote against legislation that will help them financially and physically. Haven't our soldiers and their families suffered and sacrificed enough? For the safety and well being of our soldiers, I would encourage our elected officials to take a hard look at what Bush's legislation actually entails and the damaging impact it will have on our men and women in uniform, let alone our Country.

CQPolitics says Nightmare November for GOP

via CQPolitics;

The momentum continues to clearly be on the Democrats’ side: The job approval ratings for President Bush’s Republican administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have plummeted deep into the danger zone.

The administration’s handling of the war in Iraq is now opposed by a sizable majority of voters responding to polls; those polls show Democrats with big leads on their ability to address nearly all major issues; and the scandal over the House Republican leadership’s actions in the scandal involving resigned Florida GOP Rep. Mark Foley has blunted efforts by Bush and his party’s candidates to make their case for continued Republican control.

Fossella's horrible environmental record

via the SI Advance;

Rep. Vito Fossella got a failing grade on the annual Environmental Scorecard of members of Congress, released yesterday by the nonpartisan League of Conservation Voters.

Fossella, the city's only Republican congressman, scored 17 percent -- the lowest of the city's 12 members of the House of Representatives.

Fossella's grade was based on his votes on 12 environmental bills, ranging from increasing offshore drilling to reinforcing federal clean-water regulations.

Half of the city's House representatives earned perfect 100 percent grades; none except Fossella received less than an 83 percent score.

"He doesn't have his priorities in order," said Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York chapter of the League of Conservation Voters. "I think it's troubling. I look forward to seeing an improvement in Mr. Fossella's votes. Perhaps he could speak to Reps. (Sherwood) Boehlert and (Sue) Kelly" -- both New York state Republicans who did well on the scorecard.

Boehlert (R-New Hartford) earned an 83 percent grade while Rep. Kelly (R-Katonah) clocked in with a 92 percent score.


"The positive records of many of New York's House members stand in stark contrast to that of Rep. Fossella, who put special interests ahead of his own constituents in New York by voting for giveaways to oil companies and against clean water and food safety and the public's right to know about toxics released into their communities," said Gene Karpinski, president of the League.


"I think it's well-deserved," Harrison said yesterday, adding that the U.S. must end its reliance on oil by exploring alternative technology like wind and solar power, and expanding the use of ethanol. Fossella, he said, has not supported such initiatives. "We cannot drill ourselves out of our energy issues right now. We must come up with an alternative so we get free of oil," Harrison said.

Harrison's environmental policy page.

Vito's Hastert problem

via Brooklyn Papers;

Rep. Vito Fossella has donated $1,000 he received from disgraced ex-Rep. Mark Foley to a Staten Island charity for abused children, and now, Fossella’s Democratic rival for Congress is demanding that he return the $7,000 he’s gotten over the years from embattled House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

“You don’t want to show support for someone who has not been diligent in his duties as Speaker of the House,” said Stephen Harrison, the Bay Ridge attorney running against Fossella, New York’s only Republican congressman, for the seat that covers Staten Island and Bay Ridge.

Hastert has been engulfed in accusations that he knew about Foley’s sexual harassment of male pages, but took no action against Foley, who resigned abruptly two weeks ago after ABC news aired his raunchy instant-messages to House pages.

Fossella has received $7,000 from Hastert’s Keep our Majority PAC since 1997 — but a $5,000 contribution came in June 2005, after the Clerk of the House says he told Hastert’s chief of staff about Foley’s behavior.

“Hastert was aware there were problems for months,” said Harrison. “He should have investigated and done something about it.”

But Fossella is standing firm.

“He is not returning Hastert’s money,” said campaign manager Matthew Mika.

Harrison paints Fossella’s refusal to return Hastert’s donation as a sign of his blind obedience to the Republican party and to President Bush.

“What we have is a congressman who says he is an independent, but will always rally around the Republicans, rather than do the right thing,” Harrison said.

Call for Independent Investigation, Join McCain
Possibly Legal Trouble for Republican Leadership

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tuesday post debate video

Marc is at it again with even more video goodness. Today's video is Harrison's post debate commentary.

British Army Chief's remarks parallel Harrison's

via the Daily Mail;

The head of the Army is calling for British troops to withdraw from Iraq "soon" or risk catastophic consequences for both Iraq and British society.

In a devastating broadside at Tony Blair's foreign policy, General Sir Richard Dannatt stated explicitly that the continuing presence of British troops "exacerbates the security problems" in Iraq.

So the head of the British Army, the only remaining sizable ally forces in Iraq with us says we need to get out of Iraq and soon. Attack that all you want Rep. Vito Fossella. When the head of the British Army agrees with your opponent, the cliche concept of cutting and running suddenly is meaningless when the alternative is saving the lives of the men and women in the armed forces of both countries.

I would link you to Fossella's Iraq policy page to show the difference in strategy, however as you probably know Fossella refuses to address Iraq and does not have any public policy relating to the war or our armed forces. So instead here is someone who will discuss the debacle;

From Steve's policy pages; Steve Harrison opposes the war in Iraq and calls for the withdrawal of forces as soon as it is consistent with the safety of our troops.

Janele gets big cash infusion, Dems serious about this seat

via the SI Advance;

Albany Democrats appear very interested in wresting the East Shore/Brooklyn Assembly seat from Republicans.
According to the latest campaign-finance filings, the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee (DACC) last week dropped $40,000 into the coffers of Great Kills attorney Janele Hyer-Spencer, who is running to replace retiring GOP Assemblyman Matthew Mirones.

So far the GOP counterpart has not dedicated any money to Hyer-Spencer's Republican opponent Anthony Xanthakis. Taking this seat will be a major step to reducing the Republican candidate bench on the island.

Janele's campaign site.

Incumbent Dems helping Dem Challengers

via the Times Union;

With prospects for his party to regain control of the House of Representatives looking tantalizingly bright, veteran Rep. Michael McNulty is reaching deeper than ever into his campaign fund to help fellow Democrats take on Republicans in neighboring districts.


The Green Island Democrat estimates his contributions to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, so far, at $100,000, which he said marks a record. He said he also will consider making direct contributions to Democrat campaigns around the country, as he has done in the past, based on guidance from DCCC leaders.

This is a simple way to get an early jump on funding in state Congressional races. There are no incumbent Democrats facing a difficult re-election prospect this November so we should see more of these donations occurring.

Markos outlines who has given what to the DCCC efforts. Of the 20 Dems from NY only Rep. Owens (retiring) and Serrano are hurting for cash, but neither district really presents a difficult seat to hold for the Dems. My point being is that Harrison could easily have his cash reserves filled with some help from his future colleagues.

Harrison scores a Round 1 KO vs. Fossella

[note: I have invited swislow to help guest blog here, so I will be reposting some of his thoughts as I get this set up for some guest accounts]

by: swislow

Yesterday were the first two in a series of five debates between the candidates in New York's 13th district Congressional race, Rep. Vito Fossella (R) and Stephen Harrison (D). I attended both, one in the afternoon at an AARP meeting in Staten Island, and the later one at 8pm at a church on the South Shore of the Island. The results:

Clear knockout scored to Stephen Harrison.

So many issues were covered. At the first debate at the AARP meeting, the crowd of over 200 seniors started off quiet but quickly got riled up. Vito gave a pretty lackluster opening speech, receiving only moderate applause at the end, while Steve started off with a bang. Several times during the middle of his opening 10 minutes the audience members broke into cheering and applause.

Steve was able to call Vito out on many of his distortions that have taken place throughout this campaign. Two of the very major ones were covered here: Social Security and the Verrazano Bridge toll plan.

The crowd was definitely behind Steve when he explained his comprehensive restructuring of the traffic system on the bridge, and they saw through Vito's lies on this subject. Vito, both during the debate and after in an interview with NY1 reporters, claimed that Steve wants to go back to "two-way tolls," which we all know by now is a bunch of BS. Steve took time during the debate and with reporters to explain his real plan, and there was a very positive response.

On Social Security, Vito was flustered, unable to answer to the fact that he had for a long time shown support for the Bush Administration privatization plan, then said he didn't support privatization, then said he didn't really know what to do and that they should hold a meeting. The crowd saw right through Vito's responses and applauded Steve on his efforts to save the Social Security system as it is today.

To do it real justice, I have to say this: Steve kicked Vito's ass in this first debate. There was no question that the crowd overwhelmingly supported Steve, and didn't buy into the generic Republican, fear-mongering (Vito must have mentioned 9/11 a dozen times) rhetoric that Vito kept spewing at them.

This debate was very intense--even the host said that he expected a "candidate's forum" not an all-out debate--and I think there was more media people there than I expected, NY1 was there and so were a couple reporters from the Advance.

Let's get to the second debate on the South Shore.

The showing for this debate was incredible. There were probably around 50-60 seats on the floor that were completely filled and standing room on the sides and in the back that was completely packed--probably over 100 people showed to this one.

Steve got multiple standing ovations and huge. Steve was able to coherently explain his ideas for Social Security and to attack Vito on his lack of a clear stance.

One of the main issues that was brought up here (but also at the AARP meeting) was NSA wiretapping, and as Vito called it "aggressive interrogation" (in layman's terms, torture). Steve stuck to his guns in support of the Constitution on this one, while Vito unconvincingly deflected the idea that he was in support of torture.

Again, Vito stuck to his same fear-mongering rhetoric, mentioning 9/11 and keeping terrorists at bay while not really addressing any of the specific issues. The questions might have well been something like:

"Why did you reject a bill to give a $1500 bonus to our troops?" or "Why did you vote against an independent 9/11 commission?" or "Why in the hell are we still in Iraq if we know it caused more terrorism?"

And his answer would probably have been:

"Do you want your family to die? I want to fight terrorists wherever they are."

Steve definitely was more coherent in outlining his policies and staying true to them, and I think he got his message across.

I'll mention that I was kind of disappointed with Tom Wrobleski's article in the Advance (EDIT: although his blog article really did a fantastic job--I wish he would write like this in the newspaper), but we did get front page coverage, and you can tell that this race is really starting to heat up.