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

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

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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