New York Conservatives met tonight in Staten Island to endorse a candidate to replace disgraced and retiring Rep. Vito Fossella, but they couldn't agree on a pick, according to the Staten Island Advance.
Brooklyn Conservatives and state party chair Michael Long want to support Republican Frank Powers, but Staten Island Conservatives want to see their line given to Democrat Mike McMahon:
Borough President James P. Molinaro, who did not attend the convention because he is out of town, minced no words about his choice, calling McMahon "the better man for the job."
"He knows the problems of Staten Island better than anyone," Molinaro said. "He's shown he can get things done." [...]
But Long and Brooklyn Conservative leaders are vetoing McMahon because he voted in favor of property-tax hikes and congestion pricing, and because he favors abortion rights.
"He has not put together a Conservative record," Long, a Brooklynite, told the Advance tonight. "He voted for every tax that came down the pike in the Council."
Long said, "I don't want to give [Democratic House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi another vote."
The disagreement leaves the coveted endorsement up in the air for now:
Island and Brooklyn Conservatives will continue to debate the endorsement. If the two sides can't agree, the question will go before the state Conservative executive committee in July, where Long will hold great sway.
In the meantime, it is believed that Island Conservatives will gather petition signatures for McMahon. Kassar said he will gather signatures for Powers on the Brooklyn side.
"I think we will have success getting Frank Powers on the ballot," he said.
In other news, Libertarian hopeful Fran Powers (son of Frank) is dismayed that his father has begun questioning his "lifestyle" in the press.
I am so utterly flabbergasted by this turn of events that I'm completely speechless. From the Staten Island Advance:
An already topsy-turvy political year grew even more so yesterday when Francis M. Powers, the son of GOP designee Francis H. Powers, said he would seek the Libertarian Party line to run for Congress.
"This is not about my dad," said the younger Powers, 47, a master carpenter from Clifton who plays and sings with the Staten Island band Box of Crayons and runs an indie record label called Penny for the Guy Records. "I'm running against the Republican candidate." [...]
Fran Powers insisted his candidacy is not a "vendetta" against his father.
"I'm not going to say that my dad treated me bad when I was a kid," Fran Powers said. "I know his policies. I'm running against someone I know."
Francis H. was quick to release a statement calling into question his son's "lifestyle":
"I've tried very hard for many years to help my son," the elder Powers said in a statement released by his campaign.
"Unfortunately, he's rejected everyone's help to live a healthy lifestyle. Regardless of whether he wants to run for Congress, I still stand ready to help him move his life in a positive direction."
The elder Powers did not comment beyond the statement, but a Republican source said that Powers was referring to his son's "carefree" lifestyle in the music business.
The younger Powers, who apparently has been taking hairstyle pointers from Gary Glitter, will petition to be placed on the ballot as "Francis M. Powers", and the Manhattan Libertarian Party will assist him in gathering the 3000 signatures necessary to get on the ballot. Failing that, Powers says he'll try to get the Anarchist Party's endorsement form his own Anarchist Party line.
(From the diaries with a few light edits. Be sure to bookmark Jonah's NY-13 Blog for the latest news on this race. - promoted by James L.)
All signs point to a McMahon vs. Harrison primary on the Democratic side of this race. Today brings us news that we might also have a primary on the Republican side. Dr. Jamshad Wyne (R), GOP Finance Chair in Staten Island has indeed entered the race;
The Todt Hill resident, who has gone back and forth on the race over the last two weeks, announced yesterday he would challenge Frank Powers, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member and retired Wall Street executive, for the GOP congressional nod.
Wyne had stated after Frank Powers won the Richmond County GOP endorsement that he likely would vote for the Democrat Mike McMahon. There is a lot of frustration on the GOP side among ranking members with their party's choice. If Wyne does follow through and challenges Powers in a primary that would be even better news for us. My guess though is we will see the party get him out, whether offering him the nomination for another office or just removing him from the party leadership.
Also interesting is the possibility that the Conservative Party will break with the GOP nomination and support their own candidate, possibly Paul Atanasio. If this happens this seats even further to a likely pick up for us. Primaries are scheduled for September 9th.
As Democrats, we have an incredible opportunity before us, to turn a red seat blue and bring true change and real leadership to the residents in Staten Island and Brooklyn. That will not happen if we are not united as a party.
Therefore, I am withdrawing my bid for the 13th Congressional district, and will support our party's nominee, Mike McMahon.
Thank you to all of the people who believed in me, worked for me and fought for me over the last year - especially those who encouraged me to stay in the race despite the altered political landscape.
Most of all, I would like to thank the voters of the congressional district, who welcomed me with open arms and believed in my message.
I have not made any decisions about my political future and have no further comment at this time.
Last night we brought the news to you that the Staten Island GOP selected Frank Powers, a long-toothed local party supporter with no electoral experience to run in Vito Fossella's place this November. Presumably, Powers' personal wealth played heavily in the decision. One GOP source told the Staten Island Advance that Powers plans to spend $500K from his own pockets, and raise the same amount. I guess with the NRCC as broke as it is, a self-funder does have some allure.
But all is clearly not well in GOPville. Brooklyn Republicans, who endorsed Conservative Party member Paul Atanasio last week, are miffed and dismayed with the selection of Powers:
The Democrats' pick, Councilman Mike McMahon, is "formidable," [Brooklyn GOP Chair Craig] Eaton said, and he's not sure about Powers because the two have never met. That is part of the problem.
"I'm getting a lot of calls from district leaders who are very, very upset," Eaton said. "I'm upset and digusted. Until yesterday at 3 p.m., I had never heard (of Powers).
"This is the only congressional seat in the [city] of New York that the Republican Party has," Eaton continued. "They had three weeks to come up with a viable candidate. After three weeks, for someone to come in at the last minute and become the candidate kind of concerns me."
Eaton went on to add that it's "possible, but not probable" that the Brooklyn GOP might throw its backing behind Atanasio in a primary. Whatever the case, Brooklyn Republicans clearly think the situation stinks. Me? I'm lovin' it.
The GOP has just nominated Todt Hill resident Frank Powers to run for Congress. [...]
Powers is on the board of directors of Richmond University Medical Center and has served as President of the Staten Island Academy. He served on the Board of the former St. Vincent's Medical Center for over 20 years and is a past president of the Downtown Athletic Club and past president of the Heisman Trophy Foundation. He served as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences, and Chairman of the USS Sullivan's' Foundation. He is the former Chairman of the Board of St. Elizabeth Ann's Health Care and Rehabilitation Center. He was elected to the Board of the MTA in 2005. Powers also currently serves on the Board of Wagner College.
Powers did not appear in any of the prospective or rumored candidate lists that were popping up in media reports in the last two weeks. It's worth noting that he looks older than dirt.
One big question is whether Powers will self-fund (fully or partially) his bid. If so, that's a huge factor in whether he'll be successful, considering the huge expense of campaigning in the NYC media market. But if he chooses not to self fund, he should have a considerable fundraising base from his past connections in the financial services community.
This guy seems like a big question mark to me. I like our chances.
Update: Here's a fun tidbit: the Staten Island GOP's finance chair - who considered running for the seat himself - is backing McMahon:
But Dr. Jamshad Wyne, who interviewed with the party last night even though he'd said he was pulling out of the race last weekend, objected to the Powers pick.
He left the convention before the final vote was taken, saying he would support McMahon in the race.
"I like Frank Powers," he said. "But I think Mike is a better candidate. We should be willing to cross party lines to support the best candidate."
Update II: Phil sums it up brilliantly: "The Bottom Of The Bottom Of The Barrel".
A Staten Island source confirms state Sen. Andrew Lanza is officially taking a pass on Fossella's seat, choosing instead to seek re-election for the seat he already holds in the 24th SD.
Lanza has already informed Staten Island GOP Chairman John Friscia of his decision.
This must be music to Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno's ears. Not so much for the Staten Island GOP or the Republican Party as a whole in New York.
As one disgruntled elephant told me earlier this afternoon: "If you can't find someone to run for a seat that was once thought to be a sure-thing for Republicans, you might as well pack it in."
Said another, thoroughly disgusted GOPer: "The Staten Island Republican Party is dead."
The Staten Island Advance confirms the news. The Richmond County GOP will meet tonight to endorse a candidate. Lisa Giovinazzo, who ran against Democrat (and current NY-13 candidate) Mike McMahon for his city council seat in 2003 and won only 29% of the vote, is the apparent front-runner for the endorsement. Conservative Party member Paul Atanasio seems to be the candidate of choice for the Brooklyn GOP.
The Democratic County Committee a short time ago nominated North Shore City Councilman Michael McMahon for Staten Island's Congressional seat, which will be vacated by Vito Fossella in January. The vote was 131-40 with 4 abstentions.
This is great news. The GOP has been struggling hard to find a credible candidate here after Richmond County DA declined the race and state Sen. Andrew Lanza sending out signals that he's not interested.
Mr. McMahon, who has represented the North Shore of Staten Island for the last seven years, said he had already received the support of the Brooklyn Democratic Party leader, Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez, as well as other Democratic elected officials who had considered running for the seat. The district includes all of Staten Island and portions of Brooklyn.
"I am humbled by this responsibility, and I'm very optimistic about the new beginning in this district," Mr. McMahon said in an interview on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, Stephen Harrison is intent on being a pain in the neck:
Mr. Harrison has made it clear that he would remain in the race, despite any decision made by party leaders. Mr. Harrison was defiant after Wednesday night's meeting, calling Mr. McMahon an "opportunist" who had entered the race only after Mr. Fossella had announced his decision. In contrast, Mr. Harrison said, he had been a candidate when Mr. Fossella had been expected to run again.
"This is simply a matter of the machine being at work," Mr. Harrison said in an interview after the meeting. "Not only is he a Johnny-come-lately," he said of Mr. McMahon, "he is not going to resonate with the voters in the Democratic primary."
The top Democratic choices to run for the seat of retiring Rep. Vito Fossella are quickly whittling down. State Sen. Diane Savino removed her name from consideration last week, and now, Assemblyman Mike Cusick is saying that he won't be running, either:
"I took a hard look at Congress," Cusick (D-Mid-Island) told the Advance in a telephone interview moments ago. "I looked hard at what it would take to get there. The one thing utmost in my mind was what would be best for the people I serve, and the people of Staten Island as a whole."
Cusick said he was also concerned about having a fight over the seat within the Democratic Party.
"I don't want to have a fight for the seat, a fight in the party," Cusick said. "This is a hard decision for me."
With this news, all eyes turn to NYC Councilman Mike McMahon, a Richmond County resident who has expressed an interest in running. If we can't get McMahon to run here, or get one of the earlier drop-outs to reconsider, then Team Blue is in big trouble.
Hidden amidst the news that the GOP lost its two top contenders for Fossella's seat was city councilman Vincent Gentile's declaration that he's going to run.
This took me by surprise because he seemed to be the only NY-13 candidate who hadn't been discussed for a potential run. But he does have more experience in political office than most people in the area - he served in the state senate (in my girlfriend's district) from '96-'02 before losing to Republican Marty Golden, and proceeded to win the special election for Marty Golden's city council seat in '03.
He is a Brooklynite, and in the Daily News article offers that as a reason for his run, "saying he doesn't believe the "myth" that a candidate from outside Staten Island can't win." I would suggest that the fact that he's term-limited out of the council in '09 is probably his real reason behind an unlikely run. Although his prior career as a prosecutor may make him a good match for the district, where lots of policemen live and "tough on crime" attitudes were what made Donovan so attractive a candidate for the GOP.
I don't know too much about his politics - he did support the corrupt homophobe Noach Dear for Civil Court Judge despite the fact that Dear was not licensed to practice law, lumping him together in the same undesirable company of some other Brooklyn pols such as Marty Markowitz and former NY-13 candidate Domenic Recchia.
Anyway, I doubt he's particularly progressive or electable given geography and associations - so I guess we're still waiting on the two Michaels - McMahon and Cusick - to figure out which one is gonna run.