The only contested congressional race in the city is on Staten Island, where candidates are fighting to replace Representative Vito Fossella. Borough Reporter Amanda Farinacci filed the following preview of that race.
There could be a new wind blowing on Staten Island if the Democrats succeed in ridding Republicans of a nearly 30-year hold on the 13th Congressional District. Is it the only congressional seat from the city currently controlled by Republicans.
“For Republicans it was a point of pride to have a House seat in New York City, and I think for many Democrats it was a point of shame that a Republican held a House seat,” said political science professor Richard Flanagan. “So it's always been a point of interest and historically, it's always been a very competitive seat.”
Republicans thought this year’s election would be an easy victory, until five-term incumbent Vito Fossella announced in May that he would not seek re-election, following a drunk driving arrest and the disclosure he had a child with a mistress.
The Island's Republican Party then scrambled to find a candidate. Frank Powers was chosen but died suddenly, paving the way for former state Assemblyman Robert Straniere, who never won the support of GOP heavyweight Guy Molinari.
“There's no animosity here. When I started in politics, Guy Molinari was a strong supporter. Whatever differences have developed over the years, I am willing to sit down, discuss and put aside,” said Straniere.
Democratic City Councilman Michael McMahon will face off against Straniere, as will conservative Tim Cochrane and Independent Carmine Morano.
McMahon is widely regarded as the favorite, raising more than $1 million to Straniere's $123,000. McMahon has been endorsed by several unions in the city and picked up support from Governor David Paterson earlier this week.
For those who live in the district, there are lingering questions about who they would like to see replace Fossella, though many agree McMahon is an attractive replacement:
“I might go with McMahon,” said a voter. “I do live on the north shore and he's like the hometown guy, so I'll probably go with him.”
“Mr. McMahon, I think, is an excellent candidate,” said another. “He has done a good job for Staten Island.”
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.