Steve Harrison, the spurned man in the race to succeed Rep. Vito Fossella, says Sen. Charles Schumer’s endorsement of Councilman Mike McMahon this week just goes to show that the Staten Island councilman is not a true progressive Democrat.
“The endorsement was expected,” Harrison told The Brooklyn Paper this morning. “Just a few days earlier, Schumer came out in favor of nuclear power and offshore drilling — two things that I absolutely oppose. It’s no surprise that McMahon got the endorsement because he also supports nuclear power and offshore drilling.
“So obviously, we differ on energy policy,” added Harrison, who lost to Fossella in 2006 by the smallest margin of any Democratic candidate against the six-term GOP powerhouse.
When told about Harrison’s comment, McMahon’s brother Tom, who often takes questions for the candidate, challenged his rival’s depiction of his energy ideas.
“That’s entirely irresponsible of Steve to wrongly depicted Mike’s views on energy,” McMahon said. “Mike has said that any comprehensive energy policy needs to be willing to look at all alternatives. Old nuclear power plants, which are unsafe, are unacceptable. But we need to look at the experience in Western Europe, where nuclear power has been safely used.
“Also, Mike has said that it would be foolish of us not to consider alternatives like offshore drilling — if it can be done in an environmentally safe way,” Tom McMahon added. “If not, we should not do it.”
Regardless of their positions on many issues, Harrison’s campaign for the Democratic nomination has become an increasingly uphill battle. Just a few months ago, Harrison appeared to have the nomination in the bag by dint of his performance against Fossella last time. But after Fossella announced in May that he would not seek re-election in the face of his drunk driving arrest and subsequent revelation that he had fathered a child with a woman not his wife, McMahon, the popular, term-limited Staten Island councilman, jumped into the race.
He promptly built a $500,000 war chest in just a month. Harrison, by comparison, raised $180,000 in the most-recent quarter.
Naturally, Harrison had a way of explaining that, too.
“Raising $500,000 in such a short time does not suggest that he’s a man of the people,” Harrison said. “It speaks of a man being pushed by the Washington insiders and the establishment. The only way you can say he has more support is if you’re saying that a person who gives more money is more valuable.
“Look, I’ve always said that if money could vote, he wins,” Harrison added. “But there will be a primary and the power of the grass roots is very very strong.”
Harrison said his endorsements include the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, the Democratic Organization of Richmond County, Progressive Democrats of America and Gloria Steinem.