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And Then There Were None: Part 1 – The Verrazano Fiasco

September 17, 2009

Last month, I started detailing how our party has reached the point that it has. How we went from being on top to the depths into which we have plunged. Now, as promised, I will continue the story of how our party lost so many of its representatives and future prospects. We started out with many.

And then there were none…

The Year is 1997

It all began when Rep. Susan Molinari—daughter of the Shah of Staten Island, Guy Molinari—was on her way to a life of respected political commentary, journalism, and an array of barristerial work. Her 13th Congressional District—for decades a Democratic stronghold—was only a recently acquired pearl from the newly shucked Republican oyster of New York. One senator, the governor of the state, and the mayor of NYC were Republicans. One of the few negatives: the 22nd State Senate district, comprising much of the Brooklyn side of the 13th CD, was held by Democrat Vinny Gentile because of prior Republican Party in fighting. Otherwise, things were looking up.

The Year is 2009

“Defeat. Loss. Failure.” That was essentially the slogan of the Republican Party in Brooklyn. How could it be?


The Year is 2008

Vito “Don Giovanni” Fossella, occupant of the 13th CD for six consecutive terms, was entering an election year. The year was shaping up to be a bad one for Republicans. Eliot Spitzer (known to some now as Love Client Number Nine) was still “governing” the state. President George W. Bush was facing low opinion polls, and Congressional Republicans were not fairing well either. As a result, the 13th CD election had come to be seen as a kind of bellwether for the country; as the 13th CD goes, so goes the nation—that kind of thing. As such, the election already had demanded nationwide attention, even before the disastrous fiasco that would foment before the summer.

It was on May 1st that the waters started to swirl. Don Giovanni had been arrested for driving while intoxicated in Alexandria, VA. Then, the country knew the truth: Vito had fathered an out-of-wedlock child with a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel named Laura Fay.

Rupert Murdoch was going to sell a lot of papers.

On May 20th, it was clear that Don Giovanni was not going to run for another term. So naturally, the fight for who was going to replace him began almost immediately.

Now, to understand the in fighting that came about over this election, you need to familiarize yourself with some of the geography of the 13th CD. As you can see from the map, the majority of the district comprises Staten Island, while about 20% of its geographical mass lies in Brooklyn. While the concentrations of Republicans in these areas make a GOP victory in this district much more likely than any other, looks can be deceiving.


What you need to understand about the Staten Island Republicans and the Brooklyn Republicans is that they both operate largely independent of one another. It’s not quite Capulets and Montagues, but let’s just say that both sides frequently do not harmoniously sync. With the loss of Vito as a unity candidate and the veritable heir of Susan Molinari’s seat, the GOP leaders of Staten Island were certainly going to push hard for their voice to be the loudest.

By June, things actually looked as though a détente had finally been reached. Former MTA bigwig Frank “Deep Pockets” Powers would be the latest addition to the GOP’s treasure chest of rich politicians willing to finance their own campaigns while dousing Republican leaders with patronage crumbs (e.g., Hizzoner Mike Bloomberg). Powers, who never held elected office before, was rumored to have pledged to the SI GOP Executive Committee that he would spend $500,000 of his own money on the race and also would raise $500,000 more.

But then—and in writing this I again almost can’t believe it happened—he died. I repeat: he died!

So, here was the Republican Party in June with no one slated to run for perhaps the most important seat for the National GOP to maintain on the entire east coast. Meanwhile, the Staten Island Democrats had already anointed North Shore City Councilman Michael McMahon to be their deliverer and take back the seat they had once held for decades. But on the Republican side, things were just about to get even dicier.

The Staten Island Republicans decided to turn to a man who really needs no introduction. A man we all have come to know and respect as a true statesman, one who would cleanse the stigma of Don Giovanni’s recent dishonor from the minds of 13th CD voters and maintain this crown jewel of congressional seats…

Just kidding! They turned to a man who couldn’t even successfully operate a hot dog stand!

Robert “Hot Dog” Straniere, the former Counsel to New York State Senator John J. Marchi from 1970 until 1980 and then 24-year NY State Assemblyman (including 10 years as the Assistant Minority Leader), would be Staten Island’s Napoleon Bonaparte.  In fact, Straniere had been the man who had originally inherited The Shah of Staten Island’s Assembly seat back in 1980. “Hot Dog” Straniere, who was unseated by Vincent Ignizio in the Republican primary from his Assembly seat in 2004, had not served in elected office since his 2004 defeat, let alone even lived in the 13th CD! After his 2004 loss, he was exiled to Manhattan, where he opened his doomed New York City Hot Dog Company in Tribeca. The situation was fast becoming bleak…

Enter “The Duke of Bay Ridge,” Kings County GOP Chairman Craig Eaton. Brooklyn GOP powerbroker? A man who would fight to get the strongest, most effective candidate there was?

Unfortunately, no such luck.

To be continued…

  1. Nadene Saunders permalink
    September 17, 2009 10:52 am

    Given his participation in recent and current Brooklyn and Staten Island GOP public events (and welcoming by GOP party leaders such as KCRC Chairman Craig A. Eaton and Congressman Peter King), we should keep tabs on a possible future “Vino” Fossella “re-candidacy” for the 13 C.D.

    Remember The Who song? “Won’t Get Fooled Again”

    Following the corruption, ineffectiveness and hypocrisy of former, disgraced Rep. Vito J. Fossella…..

  2. Holden Caulfield permalink
    September 17, 2009 11:14 am


    Vito was an honored guest on the dais with Mr. Craig A. Eaton Esq. and elected Republican representatives, such as Long Island Congressman Peter T. King (NY 3rd C.D.) and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, at the May 28, 2009 Lincoln Day Dinner at El Carib catering hall, 5945 Strickland Avenue in Mill Basin, Brooklyn.

    I was an attendee of that event!

  3. Brooklyn GOPer permalink
    September 17, 2009 11:51 am

    You are dead wrong. I was also at this Dinner, and am not quite sure what Dinner you attended.

    Former Cong Vito Fossella did not attend the Dinner and therefore could not sit on the Dais. Also, Cong Peter King didnt attend either and also was not on the Dais.

    You, like others on this Site should carefully check your facts before making statements at all.

    You have now confirmed that 2 people attended and were on the Dais, when either of them were there.

    Maybe you are confused.

  4. Lisa permalink
    September 17, 2009 11:54 am

    What’s Vito Fossella Thinking?

  5. Sexy Republicana permalink
    September 17, 2009 12:31 pm

    Just seeing our party’s mistakes written down makes them so real. It’s also the best way to learn from them. Very instructive, Franky. PS love the vids! 😉

  6. Young GOP Kid permalink
    September 17, 2009 12:32 pm

    HOT DOG STRANIERE! Hilarious!!!

  7. Sarah Sunshine permalink
    September 17, 2009 12:41 pm

    What an embarrassment: cheating candidates, dead candidates, hot dog candidates. Ugh. What were we thinking?

  8. Dr. Robert Stadler permalink
    September 17, 2009 12:59 pm

    Brooklyn GOPer brings up very good points. Kudos to her or him!

    Atlas Shrugs in Brooklyn has some passionate, animated commentators – and excellent writers. However, some stuff being written or expressed may (or may not) be hyperbole. Speculation or conjecture does NOT equal fact.

    When one ASSUMES, you may make an ASS out of U and ME!

    Online blogs and anonymous online commentators are not always accurate or correct. They may or may not be right. So people have to take what they read ANYWHERE on the World Wide Web with a “grain of salt!” That means that a copious measure of skepticism should be applied regarding a claim; that it should not be blindly accepted and believed without any doubt or reservation. You must always perform your own research and examinations.

    Checks – and double checks – are important always. Think “due diligence” or “appropriate carefulness.”

    Remember that some individuals or “agenda-driven” persons may embellish or exaggerate or inflate certain things in order to prop or bolster his or her perspective or opinion.

    Plus, some folks are just plain liars and/or “nuts” – or both! The nuts and “wacky jobs” out there may just sprout gobbledygook and nonsense. We do live in a crazy world.

    Furthermore, even the news media/newspapers and journalists may make mistakes too!

    “Grain of salt” is the smart way to read stuff online or in paper print form. Don’t blindly read everything you read or hear. Not everything you read or hear is the truth or reality.

    Words have the power to hurt and aggravate – and to heal and reconcile.

    “My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding.” – Psalm 49:3

  9. GOPer Hard At Work permalink
    September 17, 2009 1:24 pm

    Dr. Robert Stadler is generally correct about online blogs.

    I’ll just lend my own perspective to this debate. I have checked the stories behind these posts, and I can say that Atlas has been about 100% correct when it comes to facts, and has otherwise identified its commentary as such. I have appreciated that they link their direct sources from their site and identify “rumors” as “rumors” and not facts.

    Why am I defending this anonymous blog? Because I’ve been waiting for someone to take up the cause of reform in this party for some time. I’ve been doing my part as best as I can as a full-time father supporting a family. So far, Atlas has been right on the money. If they have an agenda, it’s getting rid of some bad characters.

    The only people complaining are the crooks they’ve been exposing.

    That’s my view.

  10. Brooklyn GOPer permalink
    September 17, 2009 2:20 pm

    All of you should be careful when you use the word “crooks” because there has not been any proof of any criminal activity on the part of anyone, only rumor, conjectue and speculation and “assumptions” which as the good Dr pointed out, and I quote “Speculation and conjecture do not equal fact”.

    If you really want to help the cause, you should call the GOP either at the County, City or State level and volunteer. That would be a way you can make a difference and get your voices heard.

  11. Frank Pentangeli permalink
    September 17, 2009 3:06 pm

    In response to Holden Caulfield’s comment above….

    Not to beat a dead horse……but it was proably the 2009 Lincoln Dinner on Staten Island, sponsored by the S.I. GOP, that had in physical attendance Rep. Peter King and former Rep. Fossella.

    Don’t know for sure but I found this S.I. Advance newspaper link from last April of 2009

  12. Brooklyn GOPer permalink
    September 17, 2009 3:28 pm

    That clearly proves my point – people who post ANYTHING must be 100% sure what they are saying – not 99% or 95% or 1% – MUST BE 100%.

  13. Donald Stump permalink
    September 17, 2009 6:57 pm

    Crook in the Literal sense: maybe.

    Crook in the figurative sense: absolutely.

    I believe there are rules against conflicts of interest, but I am certain there are laws agains harassment and assault. Let’s all consider that.

  14. David Hume permalink
    September 17, 2009 7:14 pm

    Crook definition from OED: informal – a person who is dishonest or a criminal.

    Either way, sounds about right.


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  3. And Then There Were None: The Verrazano Fiasco (Continued) « Atlas Shrugs in Brooklyn
  4. And Then There Were None: The Verrazano Fiasco (Continued) « Atlas Shrugs in Brooklyn
  5. And Then There Were None: The Bloomberg Question « Atlas Shrugs in Brooklyn
  6. Atlas Receives Transcript of The Duke’s Speech at County Committee Convention « Atlas Shrugs in Brooklyn
  7. As Vito Takes to the Airwaves, Bob Grant Says Staten Island is “Looking Forward” to Welcoming Him Back to Congress « Atlas Shrugs in Brooklyn
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