Staten Island Democrat Faces Uphill Struggle to Turn Congressional District Blue Again

The Staten Island Democratic Party selected its candidate last week to face off against Dan Donovan this November. But this retired city employee with little name recognition has a very tough road ahead if he wants to get this seat to turn back to blue, as NY1's Courtney Gross reports.

It's been more than six years since Staten Island elected a democrat to serve in Congress.

This retired city employee thinks he can change that.

"I am running so the working class people on Staten Island have a voice," said Richard Reichard, who recently entered the race. "I believe they currently do not with Dan Donovan in office."

"The people that are going to vote this November will look at my record and see that I fought for the middle class," said Congressman Dan Donovan. "I fought for jobs. I fought for less taxes."

Congressman Dan Donovan only won the seat in a special election last year.

And for years, political observers have said this district which stretches from south Brooklyn to Staten Island, could indeed flip.

But the odds against Reichard are long.

"The politics of the district are right-center so any democrat is going to have a tough time, especially one that hasn't run for office before and is not known on both sides of the district," said Richard Flanagan, a professor at the College of Staten Island.

The Democratic party is already weak in the district after a brutal loss to then-indicted Michael Grimm in 2014. That was even after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) threw millions of dollars at the race to boost his opponent.

And then Donovan won solidly last year.

The DCCC told us party officials think Dan Donovan is vulnerable, but it's unclear as of this point if they will be throwing any resources into this race.

A source at the committee said Donovan's vulnerabilities include a vote to defund Planned Parenthood and that he was not a strong fundraiser.

Donovan has about $340,000 in his campaign account as of December. Reichard just started fundraising.

"We went live without fundraising the evening that I got the nomination from the Democratic Party."

Clearly, Republicans in Washington are confident Donovan will be sent back.

A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee sent NY1 this statement on Monday:

"Democrats have a better chance of seeing pigs fly than they do at winning NY-11 in November."

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