Down ballot: Fossella headed towards exit, fields set in NC and IN

Last week, Rep. Fossella (NY-13) was arrested for DWI in Arlington, Virginia, with his breath test resulting in a 0.17, twice the Virginia legal limit. This caused a mini-scandal but Fossella was not immediately considered to be in that much trouble; after all other politicians (starting with Bush) have survived DWI charges. But reports are emerging (for instance from the Washington Post) that there could be much more to the story, and that what started as a drunken arrest could be the prelude to a sex scandal.

Now, speculation is increasing that Fossella will soon announce that he is not running for re-election, perhaps even resigning before his term is finished. Governor Paterson would then have to decide whether to hold a special election or just wait for November. The Washington Post's piece starts with "The consensus on Capitol Hill is: Vito is finito" and Roll Call is already reviewing the names of potential candidates that could replace him.

This district covers all of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn and is the only seat of New York City represented by a Republican. An open seat in NY-13 would immediately become one of the Democrats' top opportunities. Not only does it lean Democratic but New York Republicans have been slowly but surely declining into oblivion and their troubles would only be worsened in a presidential year.

So much has gone wrong for the NRCC this cycle -- recruitment, special elections, accumulation of open seats, fundraising trouble, first year in the minority and scandals like this -- that a double-digit gain for House Democrats is looking increasingly certain.

Meanwhile, the congressional committees have lost all sense of restraint in the MS-01 special election; those 400 votes that Childers was missing to get to a majority on April 22nd are costing a lot to the DCCC which appears to be reporting new expenditures every day with 6 more to go. After a new $200,000 report tonight, the DCCC's total is brought to $1.6 million (here's one of the recent ads that the DCCC is running against Greg Davis); the NRCC has spent a little over a million.

That both parties are spending this much suggests that the race is remaining very tight (they are conducting polls, so they know what is going); no matter how close to a victory Childers was 2 weeks ago, Greg Davis definitely retains a chance to keep this district. Remember that Davis is not a deeply flawed candidate the way Oberweis was in IL-14 and Jenkins was in LA-06 and MS-01 is more Republican than both of these districts.

Finally, the North Carolina and Indiana primaries yesterday did more than damage Clinton's chances for the presidential nomination. They also set the field for some important down-the-ballot races. I alluded to the victors in the results thread last night but here is a quick rundown:

  • NC-Sen: State Senator Kay Hagan crushed Jim Neal and can now run against incumbent Elizabeth Dole. While the Republican is heavily favored, most polls show that Hagan could make a move under the right circumstances. A second-tier race with potential to turn more competitive.
  • NC-Gov: Both favorites held on to their parties' nomination by narrow margins. Democrats nominated Lieutenant Governor Beverly Perdue and Charlotte Mayor Patrick McCrory won the Republican nod. This sets up a much more competitive race than was expected a few months ago. McCrory was the only Republican with a chance of winning in a state that is red at the federal level but often votes Democratic in local races.
  • IN-Gov: Former representative Jill Long Thompson won the tightest race of the night (50.3%), overtaking Schellinger's lead in the last minutes as Lake County finished reporting. She will now face Governor Mitch Daniels to become the state's first female governor. Polls indicate a toss-up race.
  • House races: All incumbents won their re-election battles last night despite an uncommonly high number of competitive races. In the most watched race of the night, North Carolina anti-war Republican Walter Jones survived a challenge from a pro-war candidate 60% to 40%; in Indiana's 7th district, Andre Carson held on with a plurality of the vote a few weeks after winning his grandmother's seat in a special election. Both are favored to win the general election.

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  • Whoever runs for Fossella's seat will be hurt very badly by Obama if he should be the nominee. Even though it isn't the south anti-Obama sentiment runs very high in NYC.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 May, 2008 07:25  

  • anon-07:25: What evedence; polls etc.; is there that anti-Obama sentiment runs very high in New York? I just don't see McCain winning NY city or state.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 May, 2008 07:48  

  • Like a lot of posters, anon 7:25 is probably extrapolating from a sss consisting mostly of his or her like-minded acquaintances. Anecdotal evidence of political sentiment is useless unless backed up by serious data, and even then it's a snapshot of a moment in time. Things can change if given sufficient time, which is why it's important to wrap this up as quickly as possible.

    By Anonymous zoot, At 08 May, 2008 08:24  

  • Go there and see for yourself. Staten Island has a large Italian community. Vito Fosselli? In NYC? C'mon, get real here. If it was a district that had a penchance for AA's, it'd be different. Nobody expects the "goodfellas" to vote for a guy they call a "mook". There's good reason to wrap this up before the general if Obama is looking like the presumptive nominee. Right now the msm is driving that hard. You guys need to get out more instead of reading stats.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 May, 2008 08:33  

  • The idea that Obama will be drag in Staten island on the nominee sounds rather foolish to me. It may be the most Republican area of NYC but it isn't as toxic as I think you are all saying.

    On the down ballot races, I think that in NC Beverly Perdue will have a decent advantage over Patrick McCrory. I know very little about NC politics, but I think the main reason why McCrory was competive in polls a few months ago was because Perude and Moore were bashing each other, however near the end of the primary Perdue started to stop using negative advisiments and Moore used the KKK against Perdue in an attempt to get the black vote, which likely backfired.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 08 May, 2008 08:41  

  • Anon 08:33: Staten Island has a population of 500,000+/-. Even if the were all "goodfellows" Obama is unlikly to lose more than an extra 20,000 votes to McCain. He will easily make this up with extra votes in Harlem. Clinton may have done better there but it doesn't matter. He may lose Staten Island but he is not going to lose NY state to McCain in the GE. Look at the big picture.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 May, 2008 08:57  

  • Jaxx it's not the republicanism as much as the racism issue. If the Democrats put up a nice Italian gentleman that doesn't accept any help or endorsements of a black guy, he'll be fine. Italians and blacks are diametrically opposed due to ancient geographical disputes. It's like the jewish/muslim thing only more recent and less theological. The Italians actually salted the fields of Carthage to wipe out their civilization. Seriously hateful sentiments there. The rise of a black Democratic party in NYC made Rudy Giuliani switch to the republican side. The same old sentimental hatred is going to put many Democrats nationwide on McSame's side, regardless of the obviously detrimental policies. To prevent this, we're going to paint McSame as a fake christian, a jew, to stave off mass defection. It's a dangerous balancing act that we'd avoid with Clinton.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 May, 2008 08:58  

  • Anonymous 8:23, the first post had two different thoughts - that the Dems would have troubles in Fossella's district, and that Obama was highly unpopular in NYC. S/he may or may not be correct on Staten Island, but that doesn't translate to NYC as a whole. The demographics are quite dissimilar.

    Anon 8:58, I agree that racism is an issue in a number of populations, but it's impossible right now to tell how wide-spread that problem is. Sure, you might avoid it with HRC, but look at the other negatives she brings with her. The Washington Times for example is re-exhuming Whitewater today with an in-depth review of personal papers that Sam Dash's estate turned over to the Library of Congress, much of which was never made public, and they're very disturbing - new baggage, not old baggage.

    Any BTW, would you care to explain your comment about painting McCain as "...a fake Christian, a Jew...?" That has a rather unpleasant ring to it.

    By Anonymous zoot, At 08 May, 2008 09:32  

  • the likely democratic candidate is dominic recchia. i don't think he's going to have a very hard time proving he's an italian. the district votes more democratic than republican in federal races. and it may be the most gop district in NYC, but that's kind like being the fastest tortoise.

    as a strong dem, i'm excited by this prospect. and as an italian american from NJ, i call BS on anyone who says that all italian americans are dumb racists.

    By Blogger st paul sage, At 08 May, 2008 10:34  

  • Jaxx, Zoot and all other intelligent and thoughtful posters:

    You guys have great input.

    My proposal:

    don't feed the anonymous "trolls". They are bottom feeders without enough guts to show themselves and are narrow-minded hit and run artists.

    You are wasting your breath with them. They write utterly stupid and illogical things that show that they either a.) were dropped on their heads as children or b.) are victims of massive alien anal probes in their spaceships.

    So, forget 'em. They ain't worth it.

    Taniel: please turn on moderation for this excellent website of yours.

    By Blogger Mark, At 08 May, 2008 10:48  

  • The idea that Italian Americans are generally racist just doesn't vibe for me. I don't know of any historical references that would make Italian americans more racist then other Whites in NYC or other states in the North East. I believe that racism today is more about geographical region (i.e the deep South) rather than through white ethnic groups. I think this is epecially true because Whites don't really organize themsevles into strong ethnic groups in the present day compared to the early 20th century and before.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 08 May, 2008 10:59  

  • Mark's nasty personal attacks are exactly what Taniel prohibited on this blog. I think you know Taniel that this type of vitriol is the root of the problem here. Delete it or become it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 May, 2008 15:02  

  • Zoot-politics at the lowest level, that of dealing in deep rooted bigotry, has no logic or reason. It is basically playing upon the emotional weakness of the victims. Those who would flip to McCain simply out of bigotry can not be reasoned out of that choice. They only respond to fear. Making McCain out to be non-christian or jewish would give pause to them. I don't think we could use muslim. Athiest would boost his electability. I think we can risk insulting some jews. It's a dirty business. It'll be at least another generation or two before all institutionalized bigotry (religion) is put to rest.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 May, 2008 15:11  

  • Democrats will do just fine in that district. As NYC goes, NY-13 is a conservative district, Archie Bunker comes to mind, LOL. But the right democrat will win there. On the other hand, what is it with these “family value” republicans that have so much trouble keeping their peckers inside their pant? The congressman just announced that he has a three year old daughter that he fathered with an Alexandria VA woman. You have to wonder what else can go wrong with the GOP in 2008!

    By Anonymous Robert_V, At 08 May, 2008 17:10  

  • Foleygate to the rescue! Realize that repressed sexual deviants always are the loudest critics of other peoples' private lives. McSame unfortunately has already been exposed for affairs, but we can always hope for a tightly wound VP with a penchance for little boys.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 08 May, 2008 18:04  

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