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

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

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Titone gets Assembly nomination

via the SI Advance;

Staten Island Democrats early today nominated Matthew Titone to run for the North Shore Assembly seat that came open with the death last month of John Lavelle.

Titone beat out Lavelle's son Daniel and long time friend Robert Olivari, both considered top contenders. In Titone's State Senate race this past fall for Sen. Marchi's seat, the NY Times in their endorsement had this to say of the likely soon to be Assemblyman;

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.

Just goes to show how contentious this race was and was expect to be, the URL announcing the nomination ends with 'dems_have_yet_to_select_candid.html'

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Republicans choose North Shore candidate

via the SI Advance;

Staten Island Republicans have again chosen Westerleigh public school teacher Rose Margarella to run for the North Shore Assembly seat.

This is to fill the 61st Assembly District seat left vacant by the passing of Assemblyman Lavelle. The Democratic Party will be selecting their candidate tonight, most likely giving it to Daniel Lavelle or Bob Olivari. The North Shore Assembly seat is expected to stay in Democratic hands. The special election for this seat will take place March 27.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Fossella learns from the NRCC

via The Hill;

A New York man who pleaded not guilty last week to charges of supporting terrorism contributed about $15,000 to the House Republicans' campaign committee and claimed to be involved with the Senate Republicans' campaign committee in recent years.


An indictment states Alishtari accepted money to send $152,000 to Afghanistan and Pakistan to support a terrorist training camp. He is charged with terrorism financing, material support of terrorism and money laundering, and faces 95 years in prison.


"We are extremely concerned and disturbed by these charges, but we need to be careful not to rush to judgment as the judicial process moves forward," NRCC spokeswoman Jessica Boulanger said.

This means that the NRCC is going to hold on to his money, just like Fossella is holding on to Tom DeLay's $10,000 in contributions.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

LTE: Fossella is no Lavelle

In a Wednesday 'Letter to the Editor' (LTE) Philip Blitz talks about Rep. Vito Fossella's self promoting speech at Mr. Lavelle's funeral;

Fossella claimed that he was concerned about the poor, yet for at least seven years he was opposed to an increase in the minimum wage and voted huge tax deductions for the wealthy. Lavelle worked to provide recent immigrants easier access to health care and employment and regularly brought food to soup kitchens; Fosella voted against providing health care for them.

But Lavelle was not nearly as good as Fossella in raising campaign money, especially from the National Rifle Association and the tobacco industry; nor was he as good at getting his picture in the paper. John was too busy quietly providing help to those in need.

Read the entire piece here.

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Fossella and Neil Volz, donations revisited

This is just getting disgusting.

Following yesterday's post which uncovered that Rep. Vito Fossella promised to donate all the money he took from disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley, and greedily only managed to donate a portion, comes today's find.

via the SI Advance;

Rep. Vito Fossella said yesterday he will donate to charity the $500 in campaign contributions he received from Neil Volz, a former lobbyist associate of Jack Abramoff.

Rep. Vito Fossella took two contributions from Neil Volz, both in the amount of $250, first on February 27, 2004 and again November 03, 2005.

via SI Advance;

Volz pleaded guilty this week to taking part in a conspiracy to ply GOP lawmakers and their aides with trips, expensive meals and tickets to entertainment and sporting events between January 2000 and April 2004.

Fossella (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) was one of 25 current Republican House members who received contributions over the past four years from Volz.

Fossella, who received $250 in November 2005 and $250 in February 2004, according to Federal Election Commission records, called Volz's illegal activity a breach of the public trust.

Unfortunately it appears as though Rep. Vito Fossella has once again outdone himeself. The above article was published on May 10, 2006. Neil Volz plead guilty on May 08, 2006. These dates fall in the middle of the FEC's July Quarterly filing which covers April 01, 2006 - June 30, 2006. We can find Fossella's July Quarterly disbursement (contributions, donations) here.

05/09/2006 - $250 to the American Cancer Society

Notice the first donation is to the American Cancer Society, the charity Fossella chose. However the total of the contribution is only $250, despite the fact that Fossella had promised to donate $500.

"It is regrettable that there are some individuals who would use their position to break the law, he said." Fossella on Volz, via the SI Advance

Actually it is probably more regrettable that we have a public servant representing us in Congress, who not once but twice now has made public statements promising to donate corrupt money he took to charities and on both occasions failed to give the complete amount promised. If Rep. Vito Fossella can lie to us about donating to charity so easily what else is he deviously hiding or misguiding us about?

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fossella and Foley, the donations revisited

Former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fl) as you may recall, abruptly resigned from Congress on September 29, 2006 amid allegations of potential sexual misconduct and communications between himself and House pages, some of whom were underage at the time. As you should also be aware of by now, Rep. Vito Fossella had taken $1,000 in contributions from Rep. Foley, dating back to his 1998 election campaign.

On October 14, 2006, the Brooklyn Paper ran a story that lead with a report that Rep. Vito Fossella had donated Rep. Foley's contribution;

Rep. Vito Fossella has donated $1,000 he received from disgraced ex-Rep. Mark Foley to a Staten Island charity for abused children

All appeared to be well and good, as Rep. Vito Fossella parted with the contributions and thus distanced himself from the Foley scandal. After revisiting FEC reports, new questions seem to arise.

1. How much was donated?
While the Brooklyn Paper and FEC reports indicate Rep. Fossella received $1,000 from Rep. Mark Foley, the Politicker via a statement from Fossella's campaign indicates they made a $2,000 donation, equivalent to what they say Rep. Foley had given the campaign;

I also donated $2000. in contributions from Mr. Foley to organizations in Staten Island and Brooklyn.

This potentially is an incorrect statement from the campaign, as records only show $1,000, however the second part that donations were made to organizations in Staten Island and Brooklyn appears to be false. The Brooklyn Paper quote, and records below indicate that donations were only made to one organization, and that was in Staten Island.

2. The donations.
If we consider the $1,000 amount to be correct, there should be an easy trail through FEC records showing disbursements totaling $1,000. Going through the October Quarterly, the Pre-General and Post General filings by Fossella's campaign, there appears to only be two donations;

09/22/06 - $500 to Staten Island Children's Campaign
09/29/06 - $250 to Staten Island Children's Campaign

These totals if accurate would indicate $750 of the $1,000 donated.
Taking a look at his disbursements (contributions) in the three filings covering the time the Foley story was public and he resigned, through election day, there appears to be no indication that this $750 total is incorrect. In his October Quarterly filing, which covered (08/24/06 - 09/30/06), we find just the two donations to Staten Island Children's Campaign noted above. There were no donations made during his Pre General filing, which covered (10/01/06 - 10/18/06). In the next report, the Post General filing, which covered (10/19/06 - 11/27/06), there are only four donations made, none of which to Staten Island Children's Campaign.

3. The time line.
CNN has a time line outline for reference. ABC first reports on the email exchange between Rep. Mark Foley and House pages on September 28, 2006. Rep. Mark Foley resigned from Congress on September 29, 2006. However, if we go back and look at the dates of the disbursements from Fossella's campaign relating to the money he received from Foley, the first donation was dated six days prior to the first media report on the Rep. Foley scandal. This indicated that Rep. Vito Fossella was quite aware of the situation developing with Rep. Foley. While Fossella made statements such as "If the allegations are true, Mr. Foley should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law" to politically cover himself, he spent no time waiting to find out if the allegations were true to part with his money, although apparently only as an empty symbolic gesture.

If in fact Rep. Vito Fossella knew of the emerging Foley scandal, the next question is why did he do nothing about it? He took the time to cover himself, however what action was taken to assure that Rep. Foley had absolutely no interaction with anymore underage House pages during those six days, if not well before that. If he sat on this information for the sake of protecting his party from the fallout he committed an unforgivable travesty.

Maybe Stephen Harrison had the most astute observation after all;

“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.”

Editorial Note: In addition to this story Rep. Vito Fossella has a larger ethical problem. He has taken a total of $10,000 from Rep. Tom DeLay and his political action committee ARMPAC and has thus far refused to return any of it, despite Rep. DeLay's resignation from Congress and his indictment on money laundering.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

LTE: Fossella favors privatizing Social Security, revisited

In a Tuesday 'Letter to the Editor' (LTE) in the SI Advance Roy Moskowitz reminds Staten Islanders that Rep. Vito Fossella and Craig Donnor his communications director continue to mislead the public on where Fossella really stands on Social Security;

First, he forgets to mention Fossella favored the deadlines and penalties imposed on seniors as an "incentive" to sign up for the Medicare prescription plan, written by the pharmaceutical industry, which was among his campaign's largest donors. Fossella favored punishing those not signing up by the May 15 deadline with a six month waiting period and increased costs. Why does the congressman wish to punish the elderly not meeting bureaucratic deadlines? Nobody benefits from delaying coverage and increasing costs for those not acting quickly enough. This is another example of Republican heartlessness.


[The] socialsecurity.org Web site continues to link to Fossella's 2002 appearance on CNN as a Bush administration privatization spokesperson (socialsecurity.org/sstw/sstw08-26-02.pdf). During that appearance, Fossella says Bush is on the right side of history on Social Security.

Read the entire piece here

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Spitzer sets special election date for Lavelle's seat

via NY1;

Spitzer says the special election for the 61st Assembly seat is scheduled for March 27th.

In related news, last night's special election for the south shore City Council seat went to Vinnie Ignizio (R) over Manny Innamorato (D);

Vincent M. Ignizio, 3,902 (72%)
Emanuele Innamorato, 1,511 ( 28%)

There will now possibly be a special election to fill Ignizio's now vacant Assembly seat.

See this previous post for a list of announced and potential candidates for the 61st Assembly seat election.

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England not so keen on Iraq Escalation

While Rep. Vito Fossella continues to take marching orders from President Bush and his administration on the war in Iraq, it seems our allies, whom you may remember from such acts as the 'coalition of the willing', well they are not so willing anymore. It seems England has realized sending addition troops is not the solution, and in fact will be removing theirs from Iraq altogether. The WFP Blog has a nice write up on this;

Tony Blair is rejecting George Bush's escalation strategy and bringing British troops home. Blair is bringing 1,600 British troops home now - that's around a quarter of the British troops still in Iraq - with 3,000 more to come home by the end of 2007 and the rest to follow in 2008.

And Senator Kennedy calls out the administration;

"Eighteen other countries have already withdrawn or dramatically reduced their troop presence in Iraq. A majority of the American people voted last November for a changed policy in Iraq. A majority of the House and the Senate, a unanimous Baker- Hamilton Commission and numerous generals have rejected the Administration's policy in Iraq. And now our country's strongest ally has rejected it."

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

LTE: Fossella's indecision on Bush's Escalation

A Sunday 'Letter to the Editor' (LTE) in the SI Advance addresses Rep. Vito Fossella's long drawn out indecision on Bush's Escalation plan. Fossella held out until the day of the vote to then declare his continued support of President Bush;

According to a recent survey posted by the Web site Think Progress, 435 members of the House were polled and the most astounding fact is three of the 435 refused to answer if they favored or opposed escalation of the Iraq war. One congressman who apparently has no opinion about the deaths of young Americans is Staten Island's own Vito Fossella.

Read the entire piece here

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City Council Special Election today

The special election for the south shore City Council seat is today. For information about volunteering see Manny's website;


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Monday, February 19, 2007

Fossella opposed escalation and President, now supports escalation and President

Rep. Vito Fossella on sending messages to our troops and our enemies:

Friday, Feb 16th, 2007

Although this resolution is non-binding, the message it sends to our troops on the battlefield – and our enemies around the world – is crystal clear.

Our words have consequences, as powerful as our actions. We must choose them carefully for they are being listened to all over the world. And the words this congress speaks today will send the message to both our allies and enemies about our resolve.


Fossella said his vote earlier this week against a resolution on air operations was an attempt to focus attention on Clinton's failure to provide leadership as Commander-in-Chief and to clearly articulate a strategy for victory.


Fossella also voted for a bill this week that would require President Clinton to seek Congress' approval before committing ground troops to combat.

Rep. Vito Fossella on 'political expediency';

Friday, Feb 16th, 2007;

To abdicate this solemn responsibility for political expediency is a dereliction of duty…and a sign of lost faith in the promise of America.


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. [emphasis mine]

Rep. Vito Fossella on strategy, is it the President's responsibility or Congress's;

Friday, Feb 16th, 2007;

With an open mind I have spent hours this week listening to the debate. Like many Americans I was willing to listen to new ideas and explore a new course in Iraq.

But an opportunity was wasted because all I have heard is “no” from the other side. I have not heard a plan…nor have I heard a strategy.


The President has a responsibility to articulate America's long-term strategy before placing even one soldier in harm's way.

Sorry comments are turned on now, didn't realize that earlier. Comments should now be automatically set to 'allow' on all posts.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Daily News endorses Innamorato

via NY Daily News;

In Staten Island's 51st District, Democrat Manny Innamorato is the choice. GOP opponent Assemblyman Vinnie Ignizio lost all hope of endorsement when he voted for unqualified Albany insider Thomas DiNapoli to be state controller. A ballot cast for Innamorato, a computer technician who has worked for New York City and Yonkers, strikes a blow for Albany reform and backs someone with a nuts-and-bolts grasp of government.

Manny for Council

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Fossella and his hypocrisy towards our troops and administration

For the past several days the floor in the House of Representatives has been open to every member to debate for five minutes the resolution on the floor opposing President Bush's troop escalation. For the past three days members of both parties took to the floor to present their opinions and stances on the matter, all the while Rep. Fossella remained unseen and unheard from because he had yet to make up his mind. In that time at least 11 Republicans have spoken out vociferously against the President's plan. While the country is at war Rep. Fossella has no problems addressing other pressing issues such as honoring Alexander Hamilton on his 250th anniversary of his birth. However ask him to present a strategy for improving the safety of our troops in the Middle East or ask him a possible more black and white issue such as, should we send more troops or should we start bringing our troops home and this politician's thought process draws to a halt. While the citizens of this country made a clear case opposing Bush's handling of the war when they went to the polls in November, Fossella seems unmoved about what they think. While military generals such as General Colin Powell, General Abizaid, and members of the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group have come forward to oppose this troop escalation, Fossella again remains unmoved. In fact all week news sites have been reporting that Fossella remains undecided on his stance towards the President's policy of sending even more troops into Iraq, when he disregarded similar suggestions from military leaders in the past.
In 2003 General Shinseki and General Zinni called for several hundred thousand troops to secure Iraq, yet that request fell on deaf ears.

However Fossella is not undecided on this issue as it would appear. As with foreign policy and the war in Iraq during his re-election campaign, he is just avoiding it and pretending it is a non issue. He knows his stance full well, and that is as an 'independent' as he characterizes himself, his job is to wait for marching orders from the decider-in-chief President Bush and to abide by them irregardless of what his constituents or what our military leaders may say. Clearly the military strategy of this President out shines those of our own military generals.

This is so clearly a situation where Rep. Fossella espouses empty rhetoric of 'supporting our troops' in order to push a very partisan issue. While I could easily debate Rep. Fossella's logic and his allegiance to this President over the security of our troops and our country, I think his own words devistatingly show his true nature.

In 1999 President Clinton presided over the US military involvement in Serbia, while participating in a NATO authorized mission. Seeing the chance to attack, in nothing short of thinly veiled partisan jabs, the President, the Commander in Chief, Rep. Fossella laid out his attack as follows; [via Rep. Fossella's April 30th 1999 press release]

Congressman Vito Fossella (R-NY) today reiterated his continued support of air strikes against Serbia but challenged President Clinton to provide a clear vision of the military campaign.

Fossella said his vote earlier this week against a resolution on air operations was an attempt to focus attention on Clinton's failure to provide leadership as Commander-in-Chief and to clearly articulate a strategy for victory.

So Rep. Fossella has indicated his ability to on one hand support the ongoing military opperation while simultaneously challenging the President's strategy. He used his office and his vote on the House floor to stand up to what he perceived was a potentially flawed strategy, yet never let down his stance that the opperation was necessary. The parallel is that today, when there is little doubt that President Bush's strategy is not just flawed but an absolute danger, Rep. Fossella has the track record to again support the war should he choose but challenge the President's strategy by voting for the resolution on the floor. However he has not done so.

"While their concerns [those of his constituents] are uppermost in my mind, I have a responsibility to all Americans as we make these difficult decisions. But President Clinton 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 to Kosovars. 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." [edited text my own]

Again Rep. Fossella sets the stage for opposition to President Bush's failed leadership, as he so accused President Clinton. He can stand by Bush's decisions on the war in Afghanistan while criticizing and asking for a revised strategy for the war in Iraq. He has done it before and will not be seen as partisan cheer leading by attacking Clinton and then congratulating Bush on both of their leadership opportunities. Yet there is no press release, there are no speeches on the floor of the House that Bush, as he accused Clinton, "has avoided articulating a strategy that will ensure victory, prevent a nightmarish quagmire or provide permanent security" in Iraq. The glaring statement that closes that thought is his audacity to invoke foreign policy experts and he even dares to request plans for withdraw. Just this past fall when similar critiques were lobbed at Rep. Fossella and President Bush by Democratic challenger Stephen Harrison, Fossella chastised him for his failure to support the troops and his desire to 'cut and run.' The egg appears to be on Fossella's face, which may be what is blinding his foresight today.

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.

So what do the American people see now after nearly four years in Iraq? Rep. Fossella, did you hear the question because we have not heard your reply...

"It was shocking that the White House and NATO failed to realize that the bombings would lead to a mass exodus of Kosovars from their homeland,"

via MSNBC;
Redmond said his staff were seeing 2,000 people a day enter Syria from Iraq. More are believed to be entering other countries but UNHCR has not recorded those movements.

Up to 1.6 million Iraqis now live outside their country — mostly in Jordan and Syria, and in increasing numbers in Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, the Gulf states and Europe, Redmond said.


“This displacement amid the ongoing violence in Iraq is presenting an enormous humanitarian challenge and extreme hardship for both the displaced and the Iraqi families trying to help them in host communities,” Redmond said.

“The enormous scale of the needs, the ongoing violence and the difficulties in reaching the displaced make it a problem that is practically beyond the capacity of humanitarian agencies, including UNHCR.”

Is this still shocking? Is this what the President meant by 'shock and awe'?

Fossella also voted for a bill this week that would require President Clinton to seek Congress' approval before committing ground troops to combat.

Rep. Fossella the opportunity again is before you. Tell this President, just as you told the last one that you will not support committing more troops to such a failed policy. Demand the President present his case before Congress clearly stating the benchmarks of his strategy to justify his escalation request, otherwise stand up and vote to oppose committing more troops as you did before.

"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 in the Balkans 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."

Rep. Fossella, you authorized a new blank check for a new President which has created a new quagmire. You saw the dangers of escaltion in Serbia, yet you are deaf to your own words of advice. Rep. Fossella you issued this entire press release on April 30th, 1999, only 38 days in the military opperation in Serbia. You clearly laid out your case for why the President at the time failed to adequately provide a strategy to win and a plan for withdraw in your opinion. You made the case for why you can support the war if you wanted, however you could vote down troop escalation and you could vote in favor of resolutions condemning the President's strategy or lack thereof. You asked the hard question of "whether the Administration was caught off guard or of it lacks a clear vision of how we will wage and win this war" yet you seemingly have no reservations of such today. Rep. Fossella you stood up as a member of Congress to a 38 day old war that you saw as so grievously ill-prepared for, yet now four years into this war in Iraq you barely appear to have an opinion one way or another. Rep. Fossella you stood up for our troops in a war in Serbia where the US military had no casualties, yet today we have buried 3,125 3,128 Americans because of this disastrous policy the President has provided for us in Iraq. Rep. Fossella I can understand the pain you feel when a role model of yours lets you down so terribly hard as President Bush must have done to you, however as you questioned President Clinton, I must wonder are you asleep at the wheel with your leadership? Is your failure to create or support any sound strategy for our troops an indication of your leadership abilities? Or in the end is this just a partisan issue where there is no opportunity for you to grand stand and in reality you could care less about our troops, because that Rep. Fossella is what you are telling us.

Rep. Fossella votes NO to the resolution and stands firmly behind President Bush and his strategy for Iraq. Vito Fossella continues to show us his 'independent' mindset. Read his speech here.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Fielding a candidate for this seat, UPDATED

Since I promised to touch on this eventually in my prior post Financing a Run at this Seat, and following yesterday's nudging of Assemblyman Cusick into the race by Rep. Weiner, there seems to be no better time than now for this. The premise in the link above is that the DCCC have their hopes set on a certain candidate or at least of preferred candidates in light of their early targeting of Rep. Vito Fossella.

Before we jump into this I want to state that DCCC backing does not create a campaign victory (see Lois Murphy, Tammy Duckworth in '06) and candidates can certainly win without the DCCC's support (see McNerney, Shea Porter in '06). With the right candidate, DCCC support would certainly make this an even more competitive race but does not make or break a Congressional race. And so the candidates;

01 State Senator Diane Savino: Diane Savino clearly has to be the favored candidate for many organizations. Her seat includes the North Shore of Staten Island, Councilman McMahon's district as well as parts of Brooklyn. She lives in Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island, something of a pre-requisite almost in any talk for viable candidates. The last two nominations have been from the Brooklyn section of this district, which encompasses only a small portion of the Congressional district and thus often sets up the talking point of them being somewhat of an 'outsider' since they are not a Staten Islander. Her background though is what propels her to the top spot on this list;

In her work to preserve the rights of her fellow workers, Diane Savino rose through the ranks to become the Vice President for Political Action & Legislative Affairs of her union – the Social Service Employees Union, Local 371, DC 37 of AFSCME. In that role she represented 16,000 public sector workers and their families at City Hall and the State Capital. Diane Savino is one of the most respected labor leaders in New York State and is known throughout the state as a fierce advocate for working families.

Frank Barbaro, a former long shoreman and labor advocate in the Assembly, managed to tap union support for $187,750 in his race in 2004. That number alone eclipses the total fund raising efforts of Harrison's 2006 campaign. For a candidate to draw the attention of the DCCC they will need to raise significant amounts of money early on, and Diane Savino would be able to do this if she can mirror Barbaro's success. All that though may be just wishful thinking. With the Democratic state senate victory by Craig Johnson on Long Island, would Gov. Spitzer and the state party allow Savino to give up her senate seat when Democrats see majority control in their grasp? While it may not be hard to hold on to her state senate seat I can't see the party asking her to run.

02 Assemblyman Mike Cusick: Yesterday's news of Rep. Weiner supporting Cusick should he jump in this race definitely raised his chances, although he probably already was in the number 2 position. Cusick represents the 63rd Assembly District [map]. While Democrats are two seats away from taking control of the State Senate, they already hold a staggering 106-42 advantage in the Assembly, so he avoids the problems Diane Savino would face. Prior to winning his Assembly seat he served as Director of Constituent Services for U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer which may prove to be a valuable connection, especially for fund raising efforts. DeBlasio was given instant credibility because of his ties to Sen. Clinton and the impact that would have on his fund raising abilities, so that would be somewhat similar for Cusick. With Schumer's success with the DSCC, one has to imagine that he can easily plant a suggestion with the decision makers at the DCCC.

03 Stephen Harrison: As I stated before for Stephen Harrison to get a second go at Rep. Vito Fossella, I think his best bets are an early announcement and vigorous fund raising ahead of the craziness that will be the '08 campaign season. Early money and lots of it may be the one thing that could keep other candidates from having a go at this race. His second option is organizing a grassroots volunteer base such as Rep. McNerney put together in his race in '06 beating out a DCCC endorsed candidate in the primary and eventually taking out Rep. Pombo. Both are going to take some time.

04 Councilman McMahon: All indications point to him preparing for a run at the Borough Presidency in 2009. I only see him entering should Savino and Cusick decide not to and with promises of support and party resources. UPDATE McMahon has indicated he is potentially interested in running for the late Assemblyman John Lavelle's seat. If he is considering moving up in the political world and not hanging onto his Council seat until he can run for BP, speculation potentially arises now that he could be considering the Congressional race. Should he run and win the Assembly seat, I would find it hard to imagine him a year later then running for Congress. Consider his momentum changing though and now on the rise.

In doing some research I came across an old Politicker post from May 2005 with some relevant findings. They obtained a "poll performed for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee of Vito Fossella's congressional district."

[T]he DCCC is clearly hoping a serious candidate -- the three they tested were McMahon, Diane Savino, and Mike Cusick -- will jump in to the race.

Not much has changed, and I don't foresee the DCCC straying far from their hopes in 2005, for 2008.

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Candidates for Mr. Lavelle's Assembly seat

(D) Daniel Lavelle
(D) John Luisi, 2005 candidate for borough president.
(D) Matthew Titone, 2006 state Senate candidate
(D) Rev. John Johnson
(D) Bob Olivari
(D) Mark Zink, a public school teacher who worked for Lavelle
(D) Daniel McOlvin, a Community Board 1 member
(D) John Castelli, Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney
(D) Kelvin Alexander, co-founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care
(D) Rajiv Gowda, president of the New York City Education Council

(D) John Minardo
(D) Debi Rose, 2001 City Council candidate
(D) Rev. Dr. Tony Baker, pastor of St. Philip's Baptist Church in Port Richmond

Not Running:
(D) City Councilman Mike McMahon

Potential Republican Challengers:
(R) Robert Helbock, former state Senate candidate
(R) Al Curtis, former state Senate candidate

Gov Spitzer will determine if there will be a special election for this seat, or he could have it filled in November on election day.

Added Rev. John Johnson as potential candidate. Also Gov. Spitzer has set a special election date for March 27.

The Staten Island's Democratic county committee will choose a candidate Tuesday, February 27. Several new names added, McMahon removed.

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Innamorato endorsements

via the SI Advance;

The Staten Island Independence Party has endorsed Democrat Manny Innamorato in the Feb. 20 City Council special election.

"We think Manny is the best choice for independent voters and independent-minded voters," Independence borough chair Sarah Lyons said at a press conference in the St. George Ferry Terminal yesterday.

At the same event yesterday, Innamorato was backed by Russian-born Brooklyn Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, an endorsement that Innamorato hopes will help him with voters who are members of the South Shore's growing Russian population.

via the SI Advance also;

"We're happy to endorse Manny," Capt. John Dunne, representing the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, said on the steps of state Supreme Court in St. George. "He comes from labor. We believe he is the best person to represent us in the City Council."

"We're happy to endorse Manny," Capt. John Dunne, representing the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, said on the steps of state Supreme Court in St. George. "He comes from labor. We believe he is the best person to represent us in the City Council."

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Daniel Lavelle to seek father's seat

via the SI Advance;

The youngest son of the late Assemblyman John Lavelle intends to seek his father’s heavily Democratic North Shore seat.

“My father and I were always close,” said Daniel Lavelle, 30, a Democrat who is the call-center manager for the city Board of Elections. “I want his work to continue.”

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Candidate Speculation; Cusick

Apparently Rep. Anthony Weiner is trying to weild some political muscle and has indicated his hopeful candidate to take on Rep. Fossella in 2008 is Assemblyman Cusick. Via the SI Advance polit:bureau blog;

"It would be great to have Mike fighting for us in Congress instead of Vito Fossella," Weiner told the crowd, which included Cusick.

Though the two are old pals, having worked together under U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Cusick still appreciated the sentiment, even if he isn't thinking about 2008 right now.

Back in September Rep. Weiner stepped up his role in helping Harrison attempt win this seat. The analysis then is just as apt for the above;

This is very exciting news for two potential reasons. First of all it is always nice to have the fund raising power of a Senator behind an event. But second, and possibly more telling is Rep. Anthony Weiner's attendance. With the primary battle for NY-11 over, and his candidate Yvette Clarke getting the nod, Rep. Weiner who has his sights on the mayoral race is going to do what he can to show off his bench building power. Now with NY-13 as the only legitimately contested congressional race do we see Weiner's organizing and campaigning abilities turned towards helping this race, and maybe others, to shore himself up as the front runner to succeed Bloomberg? [September 14, 2006]

With that let's update our candidate speculation list, now with colorful indicator arrows and links to speculation coverage:

no movement
positive movement (towards candidacy)
downgraded movement (towards candidacy)
Stephen Harrison
Assemblyman Cusick
State Senator Savino
Assemblywoman Hyer-Spencer
Council member McMahon

Just doing some formating changes. Blogger doesn't seem to like non breaking spaces after those images.

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Innamorato pledges to serve full term

Sad that this is actually news and a positive campaign position. Via the SI Advance;

Innamorato pointed out that South Shore residents will elect their fifth Council member since 1990 when they go to the polls next week.

Alfred Cerullo, Vito Fossella, Stephen Fiala and Andrew Lanza have in turn held the seat.

Each left in the middle of terms to seek higher office or accept other jobs in government.

"He [Manny Innamorato] pledged to serve out 'whatever term voters will elect me to.'" Ignizio appears not to have made any indication that he will do the same.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Winning the ground game

After the success Democrats had this past week with Craig Johnson picking up a state senate seat in Long Island a new, yet not so new, model for winning campaigns, especially in moderate to conservative districts has emerged. And that is good old canvassing and a strong ground game.

The Working Families Party deserve a ton of credit for their focus on this race and their ability to mobilize and effectively train campaign volunteers to bring out unprecedented amount of voters for a special election in frigid conditions. With the help of the WFP, 45,000 homes were canvassed in 28 days in this district, aiding Craig Johnson's victory. That is no small feat.

via Daily Politics;

WFP supplied the campaign with 75 field canvassers, a hyperactive communications director, and support from party-linked unions, proving as always that there is no substitute for seasoned ground troops.

This victory in Long Island is the first Democratic state senate pick up in decades with very similar parallels to the history of several seats in the thirteenth district. We recently saw the start of a similar program with Manny Innamorato's campaign;

“Manny’s doing a lot of door-to-door, meeting people, talking one-on-one,” he said. “Those are potential voters. It’s a foundationary tool for getting out the vote. That process begins with petitioning.” [via Tom W's blog]

The WFP GOTV effort has shown us that the old rhetoric that a seat is not winnable or is too conservative no longer rings true. How scalable and influential can this be in a congressional district in a Presidential year, well that remains to be seen. However we have learned one thing, that here in New York City, where incumbents and party machines seem to rule, good old canvassing and volunteer armies can shake things up from time to time.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Financing a run at this seat

I have been trying to wrap my head around a topic I will readily admit I am a novice at, and that would be the complexities of fund raising and by extension what it would do to a field of candidates. While I had some down time traveling this weekend I tried to venture my best guesses at two things; [1] what would it take for Harrison to win the nomination and DCCC backing this go around and [2] who is the likely candidate the DCCC is wooing with their recent talk? Tonight I am only going to try to think through #1.

1. Early announcements - Regardless of the above, one has to believe that we will see announcements made much earlier than the Dec-Feb opt out period of the last cycle. Should Mr. Harrison jump in, I have to believe the earlier his announcement the better his chances are. If he is in, I would imagine an announcement will come by April of this year.

The advantages to an early announcement for any candidate is extended media coverage (ha!) and extend fund raising periods. Additionally this will create a ripple for the rest of the field, if there is one. Unless challengers jump in shortly after they face the prospect of sitting on the sidelines and watching fund raising numbers climb. Of course the opposite could be true, should early candidates not get any traction, but that is a risky premise to rest your candidacy on.

2. Money - Barbaro pulled in around $450,000 in '04. Harrison pulled in around $110,000 in '06. Meanwhile Fossella regularly has at his disposal something in the range of $1.2 million+. With an early announcement comes the prospects of early money. And nothing will be more daunting to potential primary challengers than a money hurdle to get over. We are probably looking at a candidate needing to be on target to pull in around $500,000 to get the DCCC's support, and there is no way to do that on a 9 month campaign period, such as we had in '06.

In 2006, the DCCC's Red to Blue campaign, which would likely be where the thirteenth would be listed if it truly garners backing this term, was described as such; "One criterion the DCCC weighed in fashioning this list was that the candidates had to establish some fundraising heft on their own. That is borne out by the most recent fundraising numbers: In the first 15 months of this year, the 22 candidates had raised an average of $765,000 and still had an average of $538,000 in the bank as of March 31." [via CQ Politics]

To even be considered by the DCCC, and to presumably clear any potential field I think a candidate will need $100k by Dec 31, 2007. Of course the DCCC backing is not necessary, and on a few occasions did not deliver a victory in '06, however I think its benefits far outweigh any possible deterrents. This isn't really a crazy premise considering Dave Mejias pulled in $210k in under 2 months just 4 months before the election for his race out on Long Island.

Considering this will be a presidential election year, the benefits of early money and early media attention for this Congressional race is almost a must. This is also a district that hasn't seen a competitive Democratic primary in some time, so all this guessing could be for naught as we re-engage in this district. I welcome your thoughts if you want to share and/or correct me.

$500k would move this race from last in fund raising for Democratic challengers in '06 to second to last, ahead of just the Democratic challenger in NY-23. The three Democratic challenger victories in NY pulled in; $1.65 million for Hall (NY19), $2.63 million for Gilibrand (NY20) and $2.22 million for Arcuri (NY24). [via Open Secrets]

Another key element to an early campaign start is going to be building the volunteer and staff base. Unlike the upstate wins this past November, there are no cheap media markets in this district to saturate with tv spots. It is that support group that will allow a candidate to go on the offensive and force Fossella to form and publicly declare opinions on such issues as Bush's 'escalation' plan in Iraq. That is where the headlines will come from in my opinion.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Manny Innamorato Fund Raiser 2/7

Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Fundraiser for Manny Innamorato
Location: Jody's Club Forest, 372 Forest Avenue
Time: 7:00 - 9:00 P.M.Cost: $50 More appreciated

For more information contact:
Laura Sword 718 556-3823
or Jason Ascher 917-750-4206
Main office (718)317-0206


Manny Innamorato is running for the 51st City Council District seat vacated by Lanza.


Oh, now this should be fun. A new site dedicated to Rep. Vito Fossella.

[image via vetofossella.com]