Democrat Steve Harrison, who lost his bid to defeat the city’s only Republican congressman two years ago, won the endorsement of the Democratic Organization of Richmond County in a landslide 22–3 vote over Democratic rival, Councilman Domenic Recchia, on Monday night.
Harrison also picked up the endorsement of the Staten Island Democratic Association by a 42–6 on Feb. 19.
The endorsements for the Bay Ridge attorney against 10-year incumbent, Rep. Vito Fossella (R–Bay Ridge), go a long way towards cementing Harrison’s candidacy against Recchia (D–Coney Island), who does not even live in the district in which he is planning to run.
Both Recchia and Harrison are chomping at the bit to challenge Fossella, who is seen as particularly vulnerable in a year when the presidential election is expected to energize Democratic voters to turn out in numbers far bigger than two years ago.
The Staten Island Democratic Association is an important progressive political club in a key portion of the conservative 13th congressional district, which encompasses Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and all of Staten Island.
Recchia, who is term-limited as a Councilman, is expected to challenge Harrison in the September Democratic primary.
Recchia is leading Harrison in the all-important money race, having raised $220,770 to Harrison’s $106,821. Fossella, for his part, is sitting on a campaign war chest of $700,967, according to the most-recent federal filings.
That said, Harrison, the former chair of Community Board 10, has shown he can do a lot with just a little money. In 2006, he took 43 percent of the vote, spending just $130,000 to Fossella’s $1.7 million.
Frank Barbaro, who ran against Fossella in 2004, only won 41 percent of the vote. Barbaro, a former Gravesend Assemblyman and now the chair of the Democratic Party in upstate Orange County, endorsed Harrison in December, citing his support “for an immediate withdrawal of the troops from Iraq, [for] national health insurance, [for] protecting social security, and [for] a women’s right to choose.”
Daniel Kadin, who is handling Harrison’s fundraising, sought to downplay Harrison’s financial disadvantage.
“Harrison is doing very well in the grassroots sphere,” said Kadin, “as the election draws near, the on-line crew becomes more active. Solidly progressive candidates like Steve do very well in that world.”
Recchia is under fire from political insiders for two main reasons: not only is he virtually unknown on Staten Island, which comprises the largest portion of the 13th congressional district, but he is widely perceived as a carpetbagger.
He not only does not live in the district, but a Brooklyn Paper analysis of his fundraising report reveals that the virtually all of his campaign contributors also live outside the district.