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No Solution Yet for GOP's Fossella Problem

It's been six weeks since scandal-plagued Rep. Vito Fossella announced that he would not run for reelection in the only congressional district Republicans hold in New York City, and a week since the GOP's chosen candidate to replace him, Frank Powers, died of a heart attack.

The situation hasn't gotten any less muddled since that shocking development, as Staten Island Republicans appear to be fighting amongst themselves over the next step while Democrats coalesce with both rhetorical and financial support behind their preferred candidate, City Councilman Michael McMahon.

Last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reserved $2.1 million worth of future advertising time in the New York media market to run ads in support of McMahon's campaign. The DCCC doesn't necessarily have to use that time; reserving it early lets the committee take advantage of lower rates. But the move illustrated the party's commitment to McMahon and sent a warning shot across the bow of the GOP, which is in no financial position to compete with Democrats in such an expensive media market.

In the days after Powers' death, the GOP buzz was centered on former state Assemblyman Matthew Mirones. But he announced last week that he would not run, and the Staten Island Advance suggested that some Republicans in the district disliked Mirones because they believed he hadn't paid sufficient tribute to local GOP bigwigs.

Today, the New York Times plays up the possibility that Republicans might back businessman Carmine Morano, who is currently trying to win the Independence Party line on the November ballot. If they do back him, Republicans can only hope he has enough money to self-fund a competitive campaign, because the national party simply can't afford to do it for him. Ex-Rep. Guy Molinari, the dean of the Staten Island GOP, calls the current candiate search "mystifying." His party needs to demystify the situation quickly, or else the 13th district will go the way of the rest of the Big Apple -- into the Democratic column.

By Ben Pershing  |  July 1, 2008; 11:29 AM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign  
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