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Harrison’s abortion flip-flop

The Brooklyn Paper
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The self-proclaimed “progressive Democrat” for Congress in Tuesday’s primary for the seat being vacated by disgraced Rep. Vito Fossella has come a long way from the pro-life, anti-spending conservative stance he adopted in his 2003 City Council race.

Steve Harrison, the former chairman of Community Board 10, openly courts the “progressive” wing of the Democratic party and categorizes his opponent, Staten Island Councilman Mike McMahon as “a centrist,” — as if it were a dirty word in a district covering Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Staten Island that has elected Republican representatives since the 1980s.

“The people who have done the best in the past 20 years with respect to this district have been from Brooklyn and liberal,” Harrison said in a debate in The Brooklyn Paper newsroom, checking off both attributes for himself.

But voters who remember Harrison’s 2003 bid to represent Bay Ridge in the Council, eventually won by Vince Gentile, would hardly recognize the man who supported limits on abortion rights and opposed a property tax hike during one of the city’s worst budget deficits.

In the debate, Harrison, a lawyer by trade, described his change on abortion as more of an evolution than a flip-flop.

“I took a centrist position with respect to abortion. I always said there was a right to choose, but there were some exceptions that had to be made,” Harrison said. “Since then, I’ve recognized that I cannot hold that position and translate it to public policy for a variety of reasons.”

His past history of favoring some limits to abortion rights did not hurt him in this race — the National Organization of Women endorsed him.

“We were impressed with Steve Harrison’s grasp of and support of our core issues: constitutional equality for women, reproductive rights, equal economic opportunity, stopping violence against women and ending gender and sexual orientation discrimina­tion,” Shirley Ranz, the chairwoman of NOW’s local political action committee, told the New York Times earlier this summer.

He still clings to his opposition to a property tax hike in 2003 to close the budget deficit as well as his more recent opposition to the mayor’s congestion pricing plan which would have charged drivers for entering Manhattan — a proposal that won the esteem of tree-hugging environmental groups.

McMahon stands opposite Harrison on congestion pricing and the property tax hike, having supported both controversial measures. He has not backed away from either vote and says that his opponent is the only “progressive” politician to criticize these two policies.

“There is no progressive I know that didn’t support those initiatives to keep the city going,” McMahon said.

“We had a $7-billion hole and if we didn’t do something bold and politically difficult, we would have been thrown back into the days of the ’70s and ’80s,” said McMahon, talking about the property tax hike. “I did what I thought was right.”

In the Republican primary, former Assemblyman Robert Straniere is tangling with the Staten Island Republican Party’s finance chairman, Jim Wyne, for the GOP nomination.

Updated 6:41 pm, September 4, 2008
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Reasonable discourse

Monroe from Bay Ridge says:
So to understand Brooklyn Paper, being thoughtful and nuanced on a socially and morally complicated question like abortion is 'flip-flopping?'

Is BP really so desperate to distract from yesterday's poorly conceived endorsements that you'd actually resort to running a blatant hatchet job on a man who's done more for Bay Ridge than Mike McMahon will ever know?

I guess to a bunch of intellectually lockstep limousine liberals who wouldn't know real 'change' if it swam up and bit them on the arse, it would be.

In that case, please explain how Mike McMahon, a guy who can't even be consistent on WASTE TRANSFER, isn't a flip-flopper?
Sept. 4, 2008, 11:07 am
Simon from Bay Ridge says:
I can't believe the Brooklyn Paper is now borrowing language from the Karl Rove campaign handbook. Is BP a newspaper, or an attack machine for McMahon's campaign?

According to Mike McMahon 'he doesn't know any progressive that wasn't for property tax hikes or congestion pricing in 2003'

Wow, I guess that means Steve Harrison isn't a Mike McMahon progressive then. There for can't possibly be a real progressive!

Which means Steve's personal revelations on abortion can't possibly be legitimate because Mike McMahon didn't have them first?
Sept. 4, 2008, 2:40 pm
ROSALIE907 from GRAVESEND says:
Now let me see, I think you would consider Anthony Weiner a progressive yet he opposed congestion pricing. As a matter of fact, he attended the Forum held at Xaverian by Steve Harrison.
As for Steve Harrison expanding his position on abortion, Mike McMahon voted in favor of a Waste Transfer Station in Gravesend and now he says he thinks it should be changed. Additionally, McMahon was voting no on congestion pricing before he voted yes. Talk about flip flops.
Another thing, McMahon was vetted by Brooklyn Democrats for Change and told them he was against the war. He then went to interview with the Conservative Party 1 hour later and told them he was in favor of our continuing the war. Ask Jerry Kasser of the Conservative Party and the 19 others at this meeting. Now, that's a REAL flip flop.
Sept. 4, 2008, 11:46 pm
dots the story Jerry from Staten Island says:
Here's the link to Kassar singing McMahon's praises.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0608/10801.html
Sept. 5, 2008, 12:18 pm
GeorgeR from Mariners Harbor says:
I must admit that the BP has me confused about their own investigative reporting. Not only do they have it so obviously and overtly wrong on the Property Tax and Congestion Pricing issues (discussed more fully in the comments on this article above) and McMahon’s inconsistent musings on these issues but now the BP seems to want to attack, rather than report on, Harrison being endorsed by Now on issues of women’s rights and particularly the right of free-choice. Yet, the BP omits to mention that even before the NOW endorsed of Harrison hat also the long time champion of women’s rights Gloria Steinem endorsed Harrison independently on women’s issues including Harrison’s stated position that the right of free-choice should not be subject to qualification or approval by others or it is no longer a right.

What the BP fails to notice is that Steinem’s endorsement focuses in on McMahon’s record of voting, not mere verbal rhetoric but voting, against a woman’s right as consumers to information about the legal and lawful contraceptive emergency morning after pill by pharmacies who refuse to carry it for their own private reasons. The entire purpose and benefit of that contraceptive is that it is only useful if taken within a very short span of time (I believe it is within 36 hours) so valuable time is lost in fruitless search of a pharmacies who refuse to carry it and refuse to post some notice that they do not so that the search is stalled and delayed. Not only is that an interference without qualification or reason but inherently also includes reasons for use in cases of rape, incest or unwanted teen pregnancies to boot - being the extreme of anti-choice. BP failing to even disclose this makes McMahon appear as if he is not pro-life and that grossly misleads the public on a very important issue. Yet, BP also does not mention that McMahon also had the Conservative Party thinking he is pro-life as well as pro-war when he was seeking their nomination.

Also not disclosed are other important issues that McMahon does not want to discuss, or the public to know about, such as his votes against a resolution for not going to war in Iraq without completed weapons inspection, without exhausting all avenues of diplomacy first or without gaining the support of allies first; or his vote against the Constitution itself to reject a resolution calling for a moratorium on the use of an unconstitutional death penalty law until the constitutionality of it could be rectified; or his vote in favor of gutting and undermining existing campaign finance laws. So, I am confused as to how the BP could continue to project an image of either of these two candidates that is so inaccurate nor why it is not even trying without vetting and researching their records on the issues fully and fairly.
Sept. 5, 2008, 1:04 pm
richchri from staten island says:
Harrison has been endorsed by NOW and Gloria Steinmem. How anyone thinks harrison is not pro-choice based on those two endorsements alone is quite comical. Harrison is pro-choice he has talked about his thought process that brought him to his pro-choice stands and that was construed as being pro-life. However, McMahon who has actually voted against a bill to require pharmacies to emergency contraceptives is quite clearly not pro-choice.
Sept. 5, 2008, 2:26 pm

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