And Then There Were None: The Verrazano Fiasco (Continued)
When I last ended, Congressman Vito “Don Giovanni” Fossella had decided to step down, the Democrats had put already anointed North Shore City Councilman Michael McMahon their candidate to replace him, and Bob “Hot Dog” Straniere had been chosen by the Staten Island Republicans to succeed the deceased GOP candidate Frank “Big Pockets” Powers. The only question left was whether Kings County GOP Chairman Craig Eaton would respond to Bob Straniere as a candidate.
If you have the stomach to continue, let us continue to examine how our party lost the 2008 13th Congressional District race…
And then there were none.
“The Duke of Bay Ridge,” Chairman Craig Eaton was hardly going to be a Brooklyn GOP powerbroker. Would he fight for the strongest, most effective candidate there was?
Not a chance.
Eaton 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 the GOP’s Napoleon Bonaparte. As you recall, 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.
Craig Eaton embraced “Hot Dog” Straniere. Why?
The fact of the matter is that Eaton feared being a lone voice in opposition. Instead of brokering a deal and working with Staten Island, he caved in and chose to support a weak candidate. Maybe he didn’t want to have to claim ownership over any particular candidate (unless they had their own money to use for a campaign). Maybe he knew just how ineffective his party was (and remains) and tried to make this a Staten Island race from the beginning…
The fact is this race was Craig Eaton’s to win or lose.
I believe he chose failure.
We’ve seen the same weakness from Eaton on the issue of supporting Mayor Bloomberg for a third-term. Rather than negotiate firm support for our borough and give our party insurance in the coming years, Eaton sold out our party for a mere $50,000. Pocket change.
In the 2008 election, the 13th CD went for McCain 51% over 49%. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, McMahon beat Straniere 60% to 33%.
The Republicans lost one of the most crucial races in the country, and Craig Eaton could have prevented it. He could have fought for a stronger candidate or used every resource available to keep that seat for us.
He didn’t. He should own up to that rather than pass the blame to Richmond County.
Now, at the recent Brooklyn GOP County Committee convention, The Duke blamed the loss of the 13th Congressional on Staten Island (which I’m sure will pay off dividends when both borough party organizations meet this upcoming year to support a candidate).
Some of you might think that Staten Island holds responsibility, and they do. But, the difference that could have been made was to be made in Brooklyn. Sen. Marty Golden (aka The Golden Prince) has a major district and claims to have big pull in the region. After all, he is The Golden Prince of Bay Ridge. His acolytes love to claim just how LOVED he is.
You would think he and his Duke would have been able to score huge points for Straniere in their territory. The fact is, they didn’t.
The party allowed Straniere to run an entirely decentralized campaign with no online support whatsoever, which is unsurprising given the current technological black hole into which the party has been sucked.
What were they relying on?
His boyish good looks?
The fact is that the party grew content during the Fossella years to shift power to the candidates themselves and avoid having to do their own avid promotion. When do you recall receiving a mailing from the Brooklyn GOP in favor of a list of candidates? A postcard?
It doesn’t cost so much to do a mailing. But the fact is that the Brooklyn GOP has done more to support the reelection of its own Chairman, The Duke, than it did to support “Hot Dog” Straniere in any meaningful way.
Think about that. The Chairman sent out postcards for himself with party funds. Himself. But then, when he has actual candidates with real races to win in their districts, no party funds are offered. No money is spent on actual elections. Just his own.
I think that speaks volumes, don’t you?
The reality is inaction in a campaign is the greatest death wish there is in politics. When the party does nothing, candidates often lose. Too often in these situations, their failure is actually the party’s failure. In this case, that was very much the case.
Now, as we look forward to this November’s elections, I wonder just how much support the candidates that love to support Craig Eaton (that have commented on this blog even) will love him when it becomes clear to them how little he has done for them.
Craig Eaton has lost many of these elections already by his inaction and unwillingness to provide support to candidates that desperately need it. As a result, our party has paid and will continue to pay the price.
And for what?
Missed the first part of The Verrazano Fiasco? Click here to read it.