Staten Island Congressional Race Up for Grabs

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The New York Sun

What’s the difference between the John Edwards scandal and that of Rep. Vito Fossella of Staten Island? The one that pops to mind first is that the mainstream press knew of Mr. Edwards’s mistress for over a year but left the pursuit of the story to the tabloid the National Enquirer. In Mr. Fossella’s case, the devastating impact on his career was immediate. His 13th congressional district seat is up for grabs in November, leaving many Staten Island Republicans undecided on whom to vote for.

After Mr. Fossella’s fall from grace, many Staten Islanders were extremely disappointed in his behavior and his admission that he had fathered a child with a mistress. In the past few weeks, however, I’ve been hearing and reading a more conciliatory tone from voters who wish that Vito Fossella would change his mind about not seeking re-election. That may have to do with the fact that John Edwards is now perceived as more deceitful and manipulative, using his ill wife while campaigning for the presidency last year. “At least Vito owned up pretty quickly,” one resident told me.

It’s unlikely that Mr. Fossella will re-enter the race for his district. I keep getting requests from readers who suggest that I should be that candidate, and I view that as a sign of desperation that they would even consider such an option. Not only am I unqualified, I hate politics and what it takes to win the attention of voters. I especially loathe the fact that members of the House of Representatives spend half their two-year terms campaigning for re-election.

The Richmond County Republican Party has backed a former assemblyman, Robert Straniere, as their candidate. Originally they had selected Frank Powers, whose sudden death forced the race wide open. Mr. Straniere’s Republican rival, Dr. Jamshad Wyne, has mounted a vigorous campaign in the Republican primary, which is scheduled for September 9. I have no idea whom to support, as I know both these gentlemen, and both are eminently qualified. I plan to schedule interviews with both shortly.

The questions we should all be asking ourselves are, What do we want from the federal government, and who’s the best man to achieve that goal? When you look at the careers of longstanding incumbents, they are judged by how much pork they bring to their constituents, not whether they are actually doing a good job representing them. Voters are constantly complaining about wasteful government spending but will vote for whoever promises them the most.

So far what I hear from both Republican candidates is about legislation to cut spending, and that’s a good thing.

Dr. Wyne is tackling the issue of Medicaid fraud and wants to propose legislation that will make a state’s eligibility for federal Medicaid matching funds dependent on its progress in reducing fraud. Under his proposal, Congress would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to set benchmarks for reducing fraud. Dr. Wyne told the Staten Island Advance: “Tens of millions of dollars are being wasted that could be used for those that truly need assistance, with enough left over to give back to the taxpayers. If that isn’t enough incentive for the states to act, then maybe a potential loss of federal funding is.”

Mr. Straniere, who recently picked up the endorsement of former New York State minority leader John Faso, has taken on the worthy issue of the wounded veteran. If he’s elected, Mr. Straniere, who is a Vietnam-era veteran, pledges to hire at least one-third of his congressional staff from the ranks of America’s wounded military veterans or members of their immediate families. The initiative is open to all wounded military veteran families regardless of where or when they served.”

My City Council member, Michael McMahon, whom I have already profiled, is facing a Democratic rival, Stephen Harrison, in the primary, and there is also an Independence Party candidate, Carmine Morano. Personally I want all candidates to address the issue of voter fraud.

The 13th district is one of New York City’s most conservative and has traditionally gone Republican. There’s a good chance that the Republicans will not be able to hold this district and that Staten Island will join the rest of New York City as a Democratic stronghold unless the Republicans mount a strong united front after next month’s primary.

While there may be a few differences between John Edwards and Vito Fossella, one thing they do share is an unfortunate connection with females who knew that the men they were with were married with children. Pardon me if I don’t feel much sympathy for their plight, only their children.

The New York Sun

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