A drive through Todt Hill on Staten Island involves a sight uncommon in other parts of the city during the general elections: rivaling campaign lawn signs.
In most of deep-blue New York, the Democratic primaries all but determine who gets elected.
On purple Staten Island, the November contests can be competitive.
Take the race for borough president.
“I respect the Staten Island voter ’cause they tend to choose the person who’s best for the job, to make things better,” Vito Fossella told NY1. “They’re not, you know, I gotta vote down this line, I gotta vote down that line ’cause I’ve been brainwashed or whatever.”
The seat has been held by the GOP since 1989.
The Republican seeking to fill it next is Fossella, whose congressional career ended in scandal 12 years ago but whose name holds much sway among right-leaning voters.
He narrowly won the June primary, helped by an 11th-hour endorsement by former President Donald Trump.
Now, like then, Fossella isn’t aggressively campaigning or fundraising.
“I can only do what I think is right. And I’ll run my campaign as I think is most appropriate.”
Fossella has spent just $73,000 on his bid.
Democratic businessman Mark Murphy sees an opening.
He’s spent $488,000 by contrast.
“¡Hola! ¿Cómo estás?” Murphy greeted grocery shoppers recently.
He has hit the trail hard, trying to appeal across party divides.
He created the Staten Island 1st party as an additional ballot line.
“I wanted to take essentially the negative national politics out of government and I wanted to talk about how to unify Staten Island,” Murphy told NY1. “A speed camera doesn’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican.”
Murphy has some name recognition, too.
In 2012, he lost his bid for the congressional seat once held by his father, John.
Murphy could benefit if some right-wing votes are siphoned from Fossella by Conservative Party candidate Leticia Remauro.
Remauro lost in the Republican primary last June, but believes she has a better shot as a third-party candidate.
“Listen, if you want a different government, you have to vote differently,” she said. “And differently means voting off of the major party lines.”
There are themes consistent across the candidates.
“All of them are united in their disdain for the mayor, whoever the mayor is, unless it’s Rudy Giuliani,” said Richard Flanagan, political science professor at CUNY’s College of Staten Island. “And that they’re getting the short end of the stick with regard to the city. And no matter what the party, that’s the message.”
In the borough, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 144,000 to 107,000.
But 89,000 listed their party affiliation as other or left it blank.