The primary, the DCCC and history lessons
Right now there are two paths to the Democratic nominee depending on when the election is. The first is a standard primary for November which requires Fossella to either resign after July 1 or run again. The second is a special election should Fossella resign before July 1 in which case the party behind closed doors will pick a nominee and there will be nothing else that can be done. Let's take a look at the first path.
Elizabeth Benjamin is reporting that the DCCC is recruiting candidates now that things in this district have taken a turn.
Rep. Steve Israel, a Long Island Democrat who handles recruiting for the DCCC in this neck of the woods, told me today that he has spoken several times to three potential candidates for Rep. Vito Fossella's seat in the 13th CD: Sen. Diane Savino, Councilman Domenic Recchia and Assemblyman Mike Cusick.
Interestingly, the one individual to whom Israel hasn't spoken is the only one who has formally announced his candidacy to date: Brooklyn attorney Steve Harrison, who is mounting his second run for Fossella's seat after coming close - but not close enough - to ousting the Republican congressman last fall.
If I have learned anything so far in covering this district and the media's attempt to understand it, is that very little speculation comes to fruition. Should this be true though and I would suggest not reading too much into the DCCC's involvement and I don't particularly think this means Harrison is done. If we take a look at 2006 there were a handful of notable primaries in which local activist candidates went up against party backed candidates during the primaries. I have highlighted maybe three of the most notable below:
CA-11, Rep. Pombo (R-Incumbent)
Steve Filson 29%, DCCC supported
Jerry McNerney 53%, winner
NH-01, Rep. Bradley (R-Incumbent)
Jim Craig, NH House Minority Leader, 34%, DCCC supported
Carol Shea Porter 54%, winner
IL-06, (Open seat, no incumbent)
Tammy Duckworth, 43%, winner, DCCC supported
Christine Cegelis, 40%
In the three cases two activists candidates easily defeated much better funded DCCC backed candidates, McNerney and Shea Porter. Both went on to defeat their Republican opponents and are now members of Congress. In the third Tammy Duckworth went on to lose to Roskam by only 2%. Do not read into this that DCCC endorsed candidate's don't win or that it harms their campaign just understand that DCCC support absolutely does not equate to a victory or even a better candidate. I thought the DCCC had learned from this as they have been very good at staying out of the race so far but it must look too appetizing for them.