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A Congressional Run? Fossella Will “Think It Over”

May 22, 2010

Well, the huge news story, as we all know by now, is the return of Vito Fossella, the formerly shamed (perhaps atoned?) congressman who did not seek reelection, only to have his seat picked up by a Democrat.

Now, Fossella is back and seriously considering a run, especially given the recent support the Staten Island GOP gave his potential candidacy: essentially an all out endorsement.

Left between a rock and a hard place is Michael Allegretti, the Brooklyn GOP’s candidate, who looks all but lost in between Guy Molinari’s man Mike Grimm and the Staten Island titan Fossella, who is apparently still very popular in the borough.

Tom Wrobleski of SILive.com has been doing some excellent reporting on the story, providing his readers with the run-down and keeping us all informed. Here is a portion of his latest piece (and I strongly urge you all to monitor SILive if you’re interested in the story):

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. —  Vito Fossella said yesterday he will decide “within the next few days” whether he will seek to reclaim the congressional seat he held for a decade.

“I have a lot of people to call,” the Republican told reporters outside his Great Kills home. “A lot of things to consider.”

The borough GOP’s executive committee on Wednesday shocked the political world here by tabbing Fossella to run against Rep. Michael McMahon(D-Staten Island/Brooklyn).

Fossella said he didn’t expect the endorsement, but said he was proud to have the committee’s support.

“I was honestly surprised,” he said. “I’ve been a private citizen for a while now. I have a deep respect for my community and country. This is an unbelievable honor.”

Fossella dropped his re-election bid two years ago after a DWI bust led to revelations that he’d fathered a child during an affair with Virginia divorcee Laura Fay.

In an echo of 2008, Fossella spent yesterday at a confirmation ceremony for his son at St. Clare’s R.C. Church, Great Kills. Two years ago, when the scandal was still exploding, Fossella attended a confirmation ceremony at St. Clare’s for another of his children.

Yesterday, Fossella arrived at the family home about an hour after his wife, Mary Pat, and their children returned.

An off-Island political insider said Fossella could again find himself in the cross-hairs of federal investigators if he runs.

Before Fossella withdrew in 2008, the House Ethics Committee was investigating the DUI arrest, and also was expected to look into allegations that Fossella and Ms. Fay, who was a House military liaison for the U.S. Air Force, jetted to Europe at taxpayer expense during their affair.

The House investigation was dropped after Fossella withdrew from the race but might be revived “if Fossella makes it through a primary,” the insider said.

Another source, who was close to the events of 2008, said, “My guess is that the Democrats will request to have the investigation reopened.”

This source said that the Ethics Committee at the time appeared ready to refer Fossella’s case to the Justice Department for further investigation.

A Fossella candidacy also might lead to a fresh look at the ex-lawmaker’s campaign spending.

Media reports have questioned whether Fossella improperly used tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds to pay for restaurant meals, trips to luxury resorts, New York Jets tickets and skiing lessons for his wife and children.

Fossella has said that all the money was properly spent.

Fossella also could be hit with an administrative fine by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for failing since April 2009 to file required notices regarding his old House fundraising committee.

The FEC yesterday said that any penalties would be assessed once Fossella files the required documents.

MUM ON SUPPORT

Two top Republican lawmakers declined yesterday to say whether they would back Fossella if he runs.

When asked if Fossella would have his support, City Councilman James Oddo (R-Mid-Island/Brooklyn) said, “I can’t answer that. I don’t know.”

Oddo said Fossella left him a voicemail Wednesday night saying only that he wanted to talk to him.

Said Oddo, “I have a lot more questions than answers.”

“I’m not going to engage in a hypothetical argument,” said Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-South Shore), a former party chairman. “I’m going to take a wait-and-see attitude to see what Vito wants to do.”

Ignizio said he “has not heard from Vito whether he’s running or not.”

Said Ignizio, “I will give Vito the courtesy of deciding first, prior to deciding whom I will endorse. Right now he is not a candidate.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg played coy yesterday when asked whether he would support Fossella.

“As far as I know, he’s not running. He hasn’t called me and told me that he’s running,” the mayor said during a press conference in Brooklyn.

Bloomberg endorsed McMahon in 2008 after supporting Fossella in previous years.

Bloomberg said it’s up to voters to weigh Fossella’s “private conduct.”

Assemblyman Lou Tobacco (R-South Shore) said he would back Fossella.

“He has always been there for me,” he said.

But Tobacco said he wasn’t sure that Fossella would take the plunge.

“Only Vito knows what he’s ultimately going to do,” he said.

The groundwork for Wednesday night’s explosive vote was laid earlier that day, according to a GOP source, with Fossella family members calling selected committee members.

“The committee members were told it wasn’t 100 percent that Vito was running but that he was leaning toward it,” the source said.

While it appears that Fossella himself did not make any calls, the source said, “I don’t think that that call would have went out without a wink and a nod from Vito.”

“To suggest to the people of this district that he didn’t know what was happening is playing with all of our heads,” said former Borough President Guy Molinari, a supporter of GOP candidate Michael Grimm. “We’re not that naive.”

Fossella received the endorsement from the committee, which is packed with his family members and loyalists, even though he didn’t sit for an interview with the panel.

Ignizio called the selection process “unorthodox. It surprised a lot of people, including myself.”

If Fossella runs, Ignizio said that he “ought to go before the executive committee and have an interview, to give the committee its rightful role in vetting his candidacy.”

One observer said that the endorsement was a “cowardly” way for Fossella to test public reaction to his candidacy without actually being a candidate. It also allows Fossella to appear as if he’s “answering the call” of his party, and not running for his own sake, he said.

Others surmised that Fossella eventually would decline the nomination but would look to run for borough president in 2013.

Robert Scamardella, president of the Molinari Republican Club, said the club will continue to support Grimm.

“That’s not going to change,” he said.

Speaking to the Fossella endorsement, Scamardella said, “It’s obviously a dance choreographed by Mr. Fossella. Until the final steps are taken, I will withhold further comment.”

Updates will be monitored!

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5 Comments
  1. Mark My Words permalink
    May 23, 2010 8:32 pm

    Allegretti will back off and run against Janele Hyer-Spencer instead.

  2. Not So Fast permalink
    May 23, 2010 10:29 pm

    Allegretti would be foolish to back off. He has much invested in the Congressional race and Janele Hyer-Spencer is a tougher opponent than McMahon. Staten Island has a possible primary in this race between two other Staten Island Republicans.
    Allegretti should drop our altogether if he does not run for Congress.

  3. Roy Antoun Should Challenge Allegretti permalink
    May 23, 2010 10:50 pm

    Roy Antoun has articulated several sophisticated political positions that are very close to those expressed by Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex).

    Mr. Antoun has been especially critical of the failed Neo-Con driven foreign policy of the past administration, which current President Barack Obama’s State Depaartment has been very slow to scrap.

    On the foreign policy front, Mr. Antoun demonstrates significantly more depth and understanding than the Brooklyn GOP-endorsed candidate for Congress for Brooklyn and Staten island.

    Mr. Antoun should challenge Mr. Allegretti to a debate somewhere in Brooklyn focused on America’s failed Iran policy and alternatives to it.

  4. Staten Island Republican permalink
    May 23, 2010 11:13 pm

    Vito is the man! Run Vito Run!
    Clear the field after your massive primary victory and kick McMahon out. The Republican party in the 13th CD need to put up or shut up.

    BROOKLYN GET OUT OF STATEN ISLAND!!

  5. There Are No Second Acts permalink
    May 23, 2010 11:41 pm

    Vito Fosella is going to be proof of the adage that “There are no second acts in politics.”

    Just face reality Staten Island Republican, Vito’s lost his mojo.

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