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

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

McMahon Announces New Chief of Staff

via McMahon press release;

Former Chief of Staff to Rep. Joseph Crowley Now Serving Staten Island and Brooklyn

November 20, 2008 – After spending a demanding few days in Washington, DC, participating in New Member Orientation and preparing to serve as Staten Island and Brooklyn's newest Congressman, Congressman-elect Mike McMahon (NY-13) has appointed a new chief of staff: Mr. Christopher McCannell.

McCannell, a Fordham graduate originally from Maine, comes to McMahon's office from Washington, DC after having spent eight years as Chief of Staff to Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY), and most recently as a Director in the bi-partisan government relations firm of Quinn Gillespie where he focused on financial services. McCannell served as the lead staff member in Congressman Crowley's office interacting with House Democratic leadership through his role as floor assistant to Crowley, the Chief Deputy Whip, Member of the powerful committee on Ways and Means and New York's highest ranking member of House Democratic leadership.

" I know the needs of my district very well, but I will need some help learning the ropes in DC," explained Congressman-elect McMahon, "Chris is experienced and will be my right hand man when it comes to having my district's needs met in DC."

Prior to working with Congressman Crowley, McCannell served as press secretary for Congressman Steny H. Hoyer, and on the staffs of Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski and Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and George J. Mitchell. Mr. McCannell brings thirteen years of experience in Congressional communication, policy and politics.

" I am proud to return to Capitol Hill to serve as Chief of Staff to Congressman-elect Mike McMahon. From going to school in New York and working eight years with Rep. Crowley, I know the city well and it is great to return to serve New York City's newest Member and a critical district to House Democratic leadership. Congressman-elect McMahon is coming to Washington at a historic time, and I look forward to working with him to deliver results for Staten Island and Brooklyn and make him the most effective Congressman possible," said Mr. McCannell.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Vito Fossella a "national joke"

va Rolling Stone;

They lost in every way imaginable, on every political front. The symbol of their anti-gay crusade, Colorado congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave, was beheaded. The party that had made so much hay running against Mexicans saw noted anti-immigration crusader Bill Sali of Idaho ousted along with several other members of the Immigration Reform Caucus. The GOP's grasp on the so-called "moral values" issue likewise went up in roaring flames, with Rep. Vito Fossella of Staten Island the poster child — his morals were once so perfect that he refused to be seen with his gay sister, and now he's a national joke, bounced after being caught drunk driving and having unprotected, babymaking sex with a married Air Force officer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mission Accomplished, What Now?

I am not a long term political activist. Politics has always intrigued me, but I had not been actively involved until the 2004 presidential election. After the presidential primary had ended there was little need to volunteer for a presidential race in New York, a solidly Democratic state. Looking at prospective areas to help in the city there was only one competitive Congressional race, Fossella vs. Barbaro. I volunteered very late in the race for Frank Barbaro. This was my first introduction to politics in this district. My confession, I have actually never lived in the district. I would find myself having to explain that to sources and friends I have met along the way while covering this Congressional seat and it was always interesting to see the reactions from those I confided in.

A year after the 2004 race Frank Barbaro decided not to take on Vito Fossella a second time. He held a press conference at the ferry terminal that I was unable to attend and so I tried in vain to find coverage of his announcement. There was always a massive void in coverage of Rep. Fossella and his Congressional races. More often than not the local papers and blogs associated with them would spend more time covering members of Congress from outside the city. I questioned one of them about this and they flat out told me no one was interested in this race and it was not news worthy. It was hard for me to accept that a local race for Congress or coverage of ethical lapses of one of our own representatives was not news worthy. May 2008 happened and all of a sudden papers are devoting multiple articles a week to very un-news worthy aspects of the race showing just how rusty they were in their political coverage.

As a side note to the above, another local blogger approached me over the summer to get my feedback on the whole Vito fiasco and quipped that they had information, I forget if they said they covered it, of Fossella's affairs. It is somewhat fitting and humorous that the local media who never investigated much of anything related to Fossella only became relevant after investigative reporting was a moot point.

Going back, after Barbaro's pass at a second run there was an online movement for bloggers starting up asking them to adopt a Congressional district and learn it inside and out. The thought was that we needed people on the ground to know the issues and numbers and cover those regularly instead of relying on the local print media to do so. The idea that was a tangent of that was that we would be prepared should something unexpected happen. Not many thought Fossella's seat was going to ever be a toss-up status, but potentially a strong challenger and shifting dynamic could come along at the right time to make this race competitive.

For three years now this blog had one goal, seeing that Fossella lost his seat and the district receive new representation. I have read through more FEC filings, House bills and resolutions and election law than I care to let myself acknowledge. While this has been modestly small in terms of traffic I do take pride in receiving emails from various candidate's campaigns for this office asking for background on Fossella and opinions on strategy. The down side to this faint notoriety though for sure was the week of Fossella's arrest. I rarely slept for more than a few hours in the early morning. The pace was frantic, something that would have been difficult to keep up with had this been my full time job. The light at the end of that tunnel though is the ability to ponder my own retirement.

After Fossella's arrest and eventual announcement that he would not seek re-election several people asked me what that would mean for my long quest to see him leave Congress. I still wonder that myself. For now, as you have seen, I am taking some much needed rest from the daily Google Alerts, document sifting and posting here. There will be an election to replace Congressman-elect McMahon in the City Council which may be of some interest to me. I do not have a favorite candidate there. There is the Staten Island Borough Presidency race next year as well. I think I may turn this over to campaigns for those races and let some insiders and locals have a go at covering these races. For the immediate future there is still Fossella's sentencing, a possible House ethics investigation and his last day in Congress to cover.

One thing is for sure though, I will need to eventually rename this blog, NY13 Blog; Retaking NY-13 from Rep. Vito Fossella happily can be retired soon.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

2004 vs. 2008

dem: 105,128 [McMahon] includes WFP numbers
rep: 57,530 [Straniere]
indy: 4,762 [Morano]
con: 5,525 [Cochrane]
wfp: unknown [McMahon]

dem: 72,180 [Barbaro]
rep: 102,713 [Fossella]
indy: 2,663 [Barbaro]
con: 10,221 [Fossella]
wfp: 3,657 [Barbaro]

Without WFP numbers the biggest story here is the poor showing of the Conservative Party this cycle. The Conservative Party went from accounting for 5.3% of the vote total in 04 to 3.2% in 08. Meanwhile the Independence line nearly doubled its voters, the Conservative Party line lost half of theirs. I still have no idea what they were thinking choosing someone other than Straniere or Morano, or even McMahon if you want to go that far. They have hurt their party publicity by not having someone campaigning on their line. If they invested any money, which is unknown, it was a complete waste. This should come as no surprise though as they have been in decline for a while.

Our Democratic Bench

I had spent some more time focusing on our Democratic office holders down the ballot back when Fossella was still thought to be a man of family values. Since then it has played less of a role with the likelihood of us holding this seat for a while now. Nonetheless there were a few other victories for our side on Tuesday;

State Senator Diane Savino - 78%
Assemblyman Matt Titone - 74%
Assemblyman Mike Cusick - 63%
Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer - 55%
Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny (Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Coney Island) - 70%

We saw what a limited bench did to the Republican party this past election so it is promising to see the future of our party doing so well.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Straniere's remarks

via the Advance;

"We ran a great race, and I have my supporters and campaign staff to thank. But the tides were against us, and due to events largely out of our control -- including the severe downturn in the global economy and the declining support of the McCain-Palin ticket - -things did not go as we had hoped.

"Still, no one thought we could make this race as competitive as we did, giving voice to real concerns and forcing a spirited debate on the issues. While the debate continues, tonight I congratulate Mike McMahon on his win and a well-fought campaign."

I don't want to harp on Bob's loss too much here, but do want to point out a significant reason why he lost. He points out that a down turn in the economy cost him, signifying that people did not believe in his answers to help those in need. Bob's fiscal and conservative ideology lost and by his own admission they are not the correct path when our economy is hurting. He still has no idea what the average American is facing or what needs to be done to offer help.


Qualified Candidates

Yesterday the most qualified candidate was elect to serve in Congress. Notably Mike McMahon crushed the long held stereotype of the pundits and arm chair analysts had of this race. To win you had to be Italian and from Staten Island. For years now many have over looked qualifications for these non critical traits to determine who can run for this office.

Post primary we had Bob Straniere who didn't like in the district and Mike McMahon who wasn't Italian. A win by either would put to rest this long held ridiculous notion. After the 2010 election this district wlll grow to adjust for population growth and redistricting likely will mean inclusion of more neighborhoods of Brooklyn. It is good that before then we realize we need the most qualified candidate to run for office and not someone with the right mailing address or a last name that ends in a vowel.

Residents of this district need someone who will represent them well in Congress, be a ethical leader and someone who fights for the needs of the district. It is a profound mistake that we ever let the notion that stereotypes determine our elected leaders slip into the context of or conversations and I hope that this old way of thinking is put to rest, for the good of us all.


McMaon wins big

via press release;

McMahon Scores Sweeping Victory in Staten Island and Brooklyn Congressional Election, Sets Sight on Washington to Get Results for District

Topping Republican Opponent By Landslide 28 Points With 99% Reporting, Mike McMahon Decisively Wins Battle for 13th Congressional District Seat

Win Follows Massive GOTV Effort By McMahon, Along with Strong Fundraising and Operational Push by McMahon and National Dems

With Mandate from Staten Island and Brooklyn Voters in Hand, McMahon Looks to Washington to Bring Real Change and Results for District Residents

November 4, 2008 – Congressional candidate Michael McMahon scored a significant victory today against his opponents in the general election for the 13th Congressional District, covering all of Staten Island and parts of Southern Brooklyn. Winning in a landslide 61%-33% victory with 99% of the precincts reporting with large margins of support on both sides of the district, McMahon is the first Democrat to take the seat in 28 years. Following his victory, McMahon set his sight on winning results for the district in Washington, including funding for mass transit improvements, increasing access to health care, and creating real economic opportunity and tax relief for the district’s middle class families.

“I am grateful for the trust and faith the voters have put in me, and humbled by the difficult tasks that lie ahead. We built a coalition to achieve this victory. Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives and independents came together to vote for real change for this district, and I’ll work to build another bipartisan coalition in Washington to bring home real results. We need cooperation now more than ever. The economic crisis, crumbling infrastructure and our strained armed forces abroad will demand the best of us in Congress, and I hope to repay the voters for their trust tonight with hard work, dedication and a memory of who I’m there to serve,” McMahon said.

McMahon’s impressive victory comes after a round of notable endorsement from the Staten Island Advance and New York Times for his long record of proven results and bipartisan cooperation, nods from elected officials including Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Staten Island Borough Presidnet James Molinaro and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, as well as key labor endorsements from over twenty local unions.

McMahon ran a strong campaign out of the gates, raising $500,000 for his campaign within only three weeks of announcing his candidacy, and raising $1.4 million overall. McMahon attracted top-flight campaign talent from the Obama and Clinton campaigns, as well as Senator Schumer’s office, and the offices of Representatives Joe Crowley and Steve Israel. Over the course of the campaign, McMahon attracted hundreds of volunteers who knocked on over 30,000 doors and called over 100,000 voters, blanketing the district with grassroots support.

McMahon also earned a spot on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's vaunted “Red to Blue” program, ensuring key financial, communications and strategic backing for the campaign, along with a rare primary endorsement from DCCC Chairman Representative Chris Van Hollen and area visits from Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar.

McMahon’s sharply increased name recognition and strong margins on both Staten Island and in Brooklyn in the election leave him primed to best represent the residents of the 13th Congressional District, and bring home the results for his district from Congress as he did for seven years from the City Council.


Congressman McMahon

McMahon 61%
Straniere 33%
Cochrane 3%
Morano 3%

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I will not be blogging the election results tonight.  You can get the results faster on silive.com than I can update, so I am just duplicating efforts.  It is a little weird not to be blogging numbers as they come in, but I want to enjoy tonight.  

Here are some things to be looking at.  In 2004 this is how the Fossella v. Barbaro race ended;

Totals 2004

rep: 102,713

dem: 72,180

indy: 2,663  [Barbaro]

con: 10,221 [Fossella]

wfp:  36575 [Barbaro]

With Straniere at the top of the Republican line, expect many disillusioned voters to turn to the Independence and Conservative candidates.  They certainly both should far out pace the 2004 numbers for their party.  I am anticipating McMahon running away with this race.  So with that in mind here are the questions;

1. How much will Straniere loss by?  Barbaro took 41%, Harrison 43%

2. Can Carmine Morano over take Straniere for second?  For this to happen McMahon would likely have to be held close to or under 50%, while Morano and Straniere end up in the low 20%'s.

Good luck tonight to the McMahon campaign.

Vote: McMahon on Working Families Party line

Vote today. I suggest you vote for Mike McMahon on the Working Families Party line. Why do this? Well I have covered the WFP several times on their blog and how strong their voter mobilization efforts are. They also are a great advocate for New Yorkers in Albany helping with minimum wage issues, economic and employment issues that benefit everyone. Show your support for change in Washington DC and change in New York.

Vote Mike McMahon on Line E

Vote McMahon on "Row E"

I received the following ask from a Working Families Party who is asking supporters to vote for Obama on their ballot line. I have inserted McMahon, but the reasonings are still the same. I hope you consider this;

Good candidates are important, and we have one in Mike McMahon.

We hope you're not just voting for him, but doing so enthusiastically on the Working Families ballot line ("Row E").

At least as important as the candidate is the party. Parties allow people to support a set of values, not just a candidate. Voting on the Working Families line on Tuesday counts the same, but it also says "Yes!" to the Working Families view of the world.

You're saying: we can do better than this. We can create a country in which all people have a decent shot at a meaningful, secure life.

It's not pie-in-the-sky. We know how to do it.

Health care for everyone. A decent job with decent wages. A house or an apartment you can afford. A good school with a good teacher. An end to stupid foreign policy adventures. An end to Wall Street rip-off artists.

That's the Working Families Party. We stand with you 365 days a year. Please stand with us tomorrow by voting for the entire Working Families Party ticket.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Staniere's struggle

Ouch ;

"The candidates are now making their last-ditch efforts to reach voters. But given the dissension in the island's Republican ranks, Straniere has to wonder how many will listen to him."

GOP faces historic loses in NY

via Newsday ;

"Never in the history of the Republican Party - going back to before the Civil War - have there been so few members of the GOP representing the Empire State in Congress. Currently, there are six New York Republicans in the House of Representatives and 23 Democrats.

After the election on Tuesday, the number of Republicans is expected to dwindle further. With four GOP seats at risk of Democratic takeover, the state could be left with as few as two Republican lawmakers."

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Advance endorsement of McMahon, part IV

The Staten Island Advance has a lengthy write up on why they are endorsing Mike McMahon for Congress. Here is the fourth part;

Indeed, we commend all four candidates for an intelligent, civil and highly informative campaign. They've raised the level of discourse in Staten Island politics and deserve the thanks of every voter.

The clear choice for us, however, is Mr. McMahon, who has been forced to be on top of his game by these three exceptional challengers. He came through the debates and the forums with flying colors, in our estimation.

Now we urge Staten Island voters to get him through the last part of the way and reward him with a hard-earned victory in the contest for the borough's congressional seat come Election Day.

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Vote McMahon on Working Families Party Line

via a WFP email;

After eight years of breathtaking stupidity and lying by our nation's leaders, we are on the verge of a new era in American politics. Or so we hope.

If Obama and the Congressional Democrats win on November 4th, the pressure on them to play it safe will be enormous. The healthcare crisis, the mortgage crisis, the lack of family-supporting jobs, the need for a green path to energy independence, the heartbreaking loss of life in Iraq - each one will require audaciousness from Obama and Congress.

They will only be as bold as we make them.

Votes on the Working Families Party line send a clear message: be bold. And you can be confident that the WFP will continue the fight after Election Day.

It's time politicians put working people above big corporations. It's time to guarantee affordable healthcare. And it's time we protect homeowners at least as much as investment bankers.

Even with a change of parties in Washington (or Albany), we'll have to work as hard as ever to make that vision a reality.
Of course, that's why we're here.

Take the Working Families pledge, and then help spread the word:

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48 hour notice updates

Earlier this week we had fund raising numbers from October 15 through 28;

McMahon (D): $105,347.87
Straniere (R): $15,600

The numbers since then through October 31 are;

McMahon (D): $49,100
Straniere (R): $1,000

McMahon: $154,447
Straniere: $16,600

Mike McMahon is closing out this election with great fundraising numbers, while Straniere is still struggling to bring in enough to cover final campaign costs like office rent, staff salaries and supplies.

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Advance endorsement of McMahon, part III

The Staten Island Advance has a lengthy write up on why they are endorsing Mike McMahon for Congress. Here is the third part;

But Mr. Straniere has always had chinks in his armor. One is that he talks a good game, sometimes taking credit for things in which he had only a peripheral role, but he was never especially productive as a legislator. Of course, in fairness, as a perennial member of the minority in the Assembly, he was always stymied. However, as a member of the likely Republican minority in the House, we fear he'd again fall back on press releases and public pronouncements.

Of more concern is the astonishing number of financial and legal entanglements that have bedeviled him throughout his political career, and even after he left public office. At some point, we've got to wonder what he's been doing to bring on all this trouble.

And, while Mr. Straniere recently established a residence in New Springville in furtherance of his congressional run (though members of the House are not required to live in the districts they represent), questions about his actual place of residence have always hung over him. These kinds of doubts and Mr. Straniere's elusiveness in addressing them raise issues of trust.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Advance endorsement of McMahon, part II

The Staten Island Advance has a lengthy write up on why they are endorsing Mike McMahon for Congress. Here is the second part;

Mr. McMahon has always been thoughtful and well-reasoned in articulating his positions, including on national and international issues. We have no doubt that this approach, which is all too rare in national politics these days, will enable him to make a seamless transition to the larger stage the House of Representatives affords.

While there's always a danger a freshman lawmaker will be dazzled by his elevated status and perhaps too eager to please new leaders, we believe Mr. McMahon will make the best use of his new platform while continuing his intense and effective involvement in Staten Island-specific issues.

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Advance endorsement of McMahon, part I

The Staten Island Advance has a lengthy write up on why they are endorsing Mike McMahon for Congress. Here is the first part;

The diversity of Mr. McMahon's backers is a testament to his sensible, practical approach to the business of lawmaking and political leadership. He has consistently disdained ideology and partisan politics in favor of building consensus to achieve realistic goals.

The best evidence of his pragmatic style was his key role, as chairman of the Council Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, in forging the city's long-term solid-waste management plan. To do this, he had to work behind the scenes with other Council members whose boroughs would be affected, as well as with the Bloomberg administration itself.


Lately, he has been at the fore of the effort to pressure the Health and Hospitals Corp. to provide a fair level of health-care funding for this borough of beleaguered private hospital systems.

We expect that he will be an even more forceful champion in this important struggle should he be elected to Congress.

And, at the federal level, Staten Islanders will demand that he become a powerful advocate for the major mass transportation improvements Staten Island sorely needs. Those who vote for him are counting on it.

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