House diary: As MS-01 nears, confusion surrounds Fossella

The next chapter of the GOP's special election nightmare continues in two days as voters in MS-01 will reconvene for the congressional runoff opposing Travis Childers and Greg Davis.
The DCCC is reporting new expenditures while the NRCC has given up on following over the past few days. The latest totals show that more than $3 million has been spent on the race by the congressional committees alone, with $1.8 million coming from the Democrats. Besides the NRCC, Davis received help from Freedom's Watch.

Prior to the first round of balloting on April 22nd, Childers was seen as having an outside chance but the race was not attracting as much attention as LA-06. But Childers came within 400 votes of the 50% threshold on that night; distancing Davis by 3%, he entered the runoff period as the favorite. This is not necessarily the best position to be for a Democrat who wants to win in an ultra-Republican district. Republicans have had ample time to air ads trying to nationalize the election and mobilize their electorate. On the other hand, the DCCC has been on the attack and similar GOP tactics did not work in LA-06 last week.

The fact that both parties continued to spend heavily on the race confirms that the race is likely to be a nail-biter, however tantalizingly close Childers got 3 weeks ago. Without providing details, Cook Political reports that "private polls suggest that the needle has not moved and that [the GOP's] chances of holding the seat in the runoff are 50/50 at best."

Meanwhile, confusion surrounds the fate of Rep. Vito Fossella (nicknamed Vino by New York's tabloids) in NY-13. Arrested for DWI-ing last week, Fossella was soon forced to admit that he was racing to see his second family in Arlington. This has predictably caused a political storm, with House Republicans quickly putting pressure on Fossella. House Minority Leader Boehner told him to think about his political future over the week-end.

As of Friday afternoon, numerous papers and news agencies (like Politico) were reporting that Fossella was about to resign ("within 72 hours"). But within 24 hours, Fossella's entourage started pushing back and indicating that Fossella would not only not resign but that he would probably choose to run for re-election in November ("I can cheat and run" is the New York Post's headline).

I have trouble understanding why Fossella should resign or not run for re-election. He was (1) dunk-driving and (2) fathered a child in an adulterous relationship. The first is much more significant, but other politicians have survived similar scandals (not to mention that it looks like Fossella had left DC and was racing to Arlington because his daughter was sick), so it looks like the pressures only come down to a sexual scandal. At least in the Spitzer scandal there were elements of heavy hypocrisy and illegal activities.

Fossella's case was boosted by a SUSA poll released on Friday that shows the congressman with a great approval rating (67%). 53% say he should run for re-election and only 32% think he should resign. These numbers also suggest that Fossella's re-election chances are not doomed should he decide to run again in the fall.

If he bows down to the pressure and resigns or retires -- and the NY papers don't seem ready to leave him alone -- Democrats will have a great chance of picking a seat (in a special election if Fossella resigns before July 1st). While Bush won the New York City district in 2004, Democrats have a slight edge and considering the dire state of the New York GOP, the fact that this is a presidential year and that NY-13 is in the most expensive media market in the country, this would be a tough hold for Republicans.

Labels: ,


  • Taniel - I usually agree with your aticles but I do not understand why you do not think Vino should resign or not stand in Nov. He broke the law by DWI-ing and he preachs family values (like most Republicans) and had a second family. That is gross hyprocrisy. Did he think he would help he sick daughter by being drunk??

    If he stands in November then he will get heavily defeated regardless of the national scene. Remember Sherwood in PA - another Republican with a mistress - he lost heavily and deservedly so. If you want your representatives to have ethics then they need to be sent a message via the ballot box if they do not do the honorable thing.

    By Anonymous Tom, At 12 May, 2008 07:43  

  • Tom,

    If voters want to vote against him based on this, very well, I am just arguing that him resigning or retiring is too moralizing. I understand your point about ethics, but I don't think sexual morality should be part of what a candidate is held to, and that's what Fossella's situation clearly is. As for Sherwood, he was accused of trying to strangle his mistress, after all...

    By Blogger Taniel, At 12 May, 2008 08:08  

  • I've always heard the phrase that "Politics makes for strange bedfellows." Perhaps it'd be more accurate to say, "Politicians make strange bedfellows."

    By Anonymous David, Tallahassee FL, At 12 May, 2008 08:48  

  • Perhaps Fassello is using the Larry Craig strategy; just tough it out no matter how embarassing to the GOP. They may also be waiting until it's to late for Gov. Paterson to call a special election; July I think. Either way he appears to be toast. I can't imagine the GOP will allow him to even consider running again.

    By Anonymous fritz, At 12 May, 2008 09:45  

  • I agree with fritz, if hes going to resign before his term is up, its going to be after July 1st so Patterson can't call for a special election. If thier is a special election, the democrat will be strongly favored to win because of the massive money advantage Democrats have and the fact that NY-13 is a classic swing district (voted for Gore in 2000, voted for Bush by an narrower margin in 2004).

    At least if the election is during the normoal fall it would give time for the GOP to prepare for the race and mabye they can hope for some event that weakens the Dem prez nominee and that it goes down the ticket.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 12 May, 2008 10:13  

  • Jaxx - whenever the election is the GOP will lose this seat. If it is the GE then the wave will be just as big plus the GOP will have some many other places to spend their limited money. At least in a special election the GOP can focus resources on just one seat.

    By Anonymous Tom, At 12 May, 2008 18:50  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home