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Sunday, March 19, 2006

NY-13: NYC Council Member De Blasio May Jump In

Posted by DavidNYC

Thanks to NYGreg in the comments comes this excellent bit of news:

A Brooklyn lawmaker with close ties to U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is looking at taking on Rep. Vito Fossella this year, setting up a potential battle between Staten Island Democrats and Washington, D.C., party leaders.

Democratic City Councilman Bill de Blasio has been approached by a "number of people" about the race, said Howard Wolfson, a top Democratic strategist who advises Mrs. Clinton (D-N.Y.) and the state party.

"He is taking a look at it," Wolfson said. "He's very much in the examination phase."

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which bankrolls House races, yesterday said it would embrace de Blasio's candidacy.

A few thoughts:

• De Blasio is pretty well-known (as far as these things go, for city councilmen). He just lost a race to become City Council Speaker, so he's actually one of the more prominent members of the council.

• De Blasio has close ties to the Clinton network, which suggests he'll be able to raise the large sums necessary to beat the incumbent, Vito Fosella, in this race.

• Speaking of Fosella, he's the last Republican to hold a House seat in NYC (and one of only two metro-area GOPers). If grassroots groups in NYC have their act together, De Blasio could benefit from an enormous flood of volunteers, given that there will probably be no other serious D vs. R races anywhere in the five boroughs.

• As to the district, it's a bit of an odd duck. It covers all of Staten Island and a chuck of neighboring Brooklyn. It went for Gore 52-44 in 2000. However, it went for Bush 55-45 in 2004, which the Almanac says was one of the biggest turnarounds in the country. (They think 9/11 might have had something to do with it - Bush was still at 55% approval on Staten Island in the summer before the election, but just half that or worse in the other four boroughs.) Don't forget, though, that Bush's overall performance in NYS increased 7% in that same timeframe. I think NY-13 is ready to boomerang back: Quinnipiac showed Bush with a 43% statewide approval in Sept. 2004; SurveyUSA now pegs him at just 27%.

• One last thing: Fosella is the GOP's golden boy to run for mayor in 2009. Unlike Giuliani and especially Bloomberg, who infuriated "real" Republicans by being too liberal, the last few conservative Republicans in NYC think Fosella is one of them, and really want him to succeed. Ordinarily, I'd say this makes Fosella too conservative to ever become mayor of New York City, but after four straight Republican victories - and the fact that the GOP is often very good at hiding how extreme it is - I'm a bit gunshy. However, if Fosella loses his seat in Congress, that certainly takes some of the sheen off.

Unfortunately, there appears to be some unpleasant whingeing going on:

But Assemblyman John Lavelle, the Island Democratic leader, said it was "a little late" for de Blasio to be looking at the race.

"They may welcome him, but it's not their decision," said Lavelle (D-North Shore), whose executive committee has endorsed Brooklyn attorney Stephen Harrison.


"I'm not appreciative of people in D.C. having these conversations without telling us," said Lavelle.

Ugh. Lavelle was responsible for recruitment here and the best he could come up with was Harrison, a man with no comparable prior political experience. Now he has the temerity to complain that he wasn't consulted when a very good candidate might be ready to jump in? Talk about putting your own bruised ego ahead of your party! This is another illustration of what RBH accurately termed the "Calling Shotgun Principle" - ie, filing first is all that matters. If de Blasio does enter the race, Lavelle better fall in line. I think we'd have a real shot at this seat, but that'll only happen if everyone is prepared to be a team player.

Posted at 01:39 PM in New York | Technorati

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A couple of comments. The DCCC tried to recruit Staten Island Councilmen and Assemblymen but none wanted to do it.

DeBlasio is an impressive guy and would be a good candidate for Congress but not in this seat. Staten Island is 2/3 of the seat and is very provincial - they voted to suceed (sp?) from NYC in 1993. DeBlasio does not live in the district and his council district covers about 10 blocks of the 13th Congressional district. He is going to be tagged as a carpetbagger. You need someone from Staten Island to win this seat under its current lines which is probably why LaValle isn't too hot on DeBlasio. He understands that fact. LaValle may see this race as a distraction from other down ballot races he thinks he can win.

I am much more down on this race than many people on the net. It may have been watching the trouncing of Eric Vitalliano, a strong Dem contender, by Fossella in an open seat race in 1997. The Repubs have an extremely strong machine on SI right now holding all borough wide offices. The Brooklyn piece of this district is mainly Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst, the only parts of the borough with Repub office holders.

DeBlasio will not be disadvantaged by money like many challengers but there are other powers incumbents have. People underestimate the importance of constituent services like finding lost Social Security checks, solving Medicare problems, getting funding for repathing streets, etc. Fossella is renowned for this type of stuff.

DeBlasio has little lose - he is term limited and lost his race for Council Speaker. I expected him to make the race but I have real doubts how good he will be in this particular seat.

Posted by: John Mills [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 19, 2006 03:46 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Yeah, don't ask me why an Executive Committee endorsed a primary candidate almost 6 months before the primary and 4 months before the primary filing deadline.

Posted by: RBH [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 19, 2006 05:08 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Clinton-Spitzer factor. check out www.faso2006.com to watch the Republican infighting in the worst way. We can win any race in New York with this going on.

Posted by: Democraticavenger [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 19, 2006 10:23 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

RBH, Stephen Harrison the LaVelle vetted candidate is not an SI resident either. He lives in Gentile's council district in Brooklyn.

And David, not sure if you were implying it or not, but I don’t believe Harrison has filed for this race yet. The only campaign related activity he has participated in so far is getting the endorsement of the SI Dem. Party’s executive committee.

NY-13 blog

Posted by: jonahinnyc [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 19, 2006 11:13 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Nope. Just meant to indicate that Harrison is Lavelle's pick, whether he's filed or not.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 19, 2006 11:26 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Bill has sent out an email today announcing his 'serious look at this race'. The full email is up on the blog


Posted by: jonahinnyc [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 21, 2006 05:21 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment