Skip to comments.GOP endorses Frank Powers (to replace GOP Rep. Vito Fossella in Congress)
Posted on 05/30/2008 8:57:47 AM PDT by neverdem
ADVANCE POLITICAL EDITOR
Financier said to pledge 500Gs of his own toward congressional race
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- In a move that political observers did not see coming, the Staten Island Republican Party last night unanimously endorsed Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member and retired Wall Street executive Frank Powers to replace GOP Rep. Vito Fossella in Congress.
"I'm going to give it a hard fight," Powers told members of the GOP county committee at their convention in the Excelsior Grand, New Dorp. "I intend to give it every ounce I can."
While Powers, a Todt Hill resident, has been a big fund-raiser and supporter of Fossella and other GOP candidates over the years, his name was not one that had been bandied about in recent days for the seat.
The Republicans have had trouble finding a candidate, with one well-known elected official after another declining to run.
The last top-tier GOP candidate looking at the race, state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-South Shore), said yesterday he would not run because he was concerned about the effect a congressional career would have on his young family.
"I decided I wanted to put myself out there as a candidate because things seemed to be faltering," Powers told the Advance. Republicans said Powers emerged as a serious candidate only yesterday afternoon.
Staten Island Democrats on Wednesday endorsed North Shore City Councilman Michael McMahon for the race. McMahon is opposed by Brooklyn attorney Stephen Harrison in a party primary.
Fossella (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn), rocked by revelations that he'd fathered a daughter with a Virginia woman during an extramarital affair, said last week he would not seek another term in the House. Fossella did not attend last night's convention, but his father, Vito Sr., and the congressman's uncle, Frank, were in attendance.
"I think Frank Powers is a wonderful person," Vito Fossella Sr. told the Advance at the end of the night.
One GOP executive committee member told the Advance that Powers informed the committee during an interview last night that he would spend $500,000 of his own money on the race and would raise $500,000 more.
"He said it like it was no big deal," the committee member said. "I believe him. He's such a successful guy. It was very matter-of-fact."
Powers last night would not tell the Advance how much of his own money he'd put into the race, but added, "I'm willing to do that to jump-start my campaign."
On the recommendation of Fossella, Gov. George Pataki appointed Powers to the MTA board in 2005. He is also on the board of Richmond University Medical Center in West Brighton.
A retired partner and chief operating officer at Weiss, Peck and Greer, a money-management, venture-capital and trading-and-clearance firm in Manhattan, Powers was a founding member of the Chicago Board of Options, and was a member of the New York Stock Exchange for 27 years.
Powers' wife, Dianne, is treasurer of the borough GOP.
"The question was: Do I want to get into this type of public life?" Powers told Republicans. "The answer is, I do."
City Councilman James Oddo (R-Mid-Island/Brooklyn) said the mention of Powers' name built "to a crescendo" throughout the day yesterday.
"It's not really surprising," said Oddo. "I think that Frank just got more serious."
"Frank was interested, but waited out of respect for Senator Lanza," said Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-South Shore). "When he knew that Andy was not seeking the seat, Frank began making calls."
"I'm pleased with how the process worked out," said GOP chairman John Friscia. "Frank has put his heart into the party for the last 10 years. He's been behind a number of successful candidates."
But as Republicans gathered for the convention last night, many believed that TV newscaster Lisa Giovinazzo, whose name surfaced yesterday, would be the nominee. Ms. Giovinazzo, who ran against McMahon for Council in 2003, said she'd begun considering the race on Tuesday.
But Ms. Giovinazzo expressed no regrets about being passed over for the nomination, even though Friscia told the Advance yesterday that he considered her the "front-runner" for the nod.
"I don't think it's a surprise, given the unique situation that the party is in," Ms. Giovinazzo told the Advance. "I have a lot of respect for Frank Powers. He's supported everybody in the party. I support him wholeheartedly."
"I think it's great," said attorney Glenn Yost, who also had considered running. "He's a longtime friend of mine. He's a guy who's going to put up a good fight. It's very good for us."
But Dr. Jamshad Wyne, who interviewed with the party last night even though he'd said he was pulling out of the race last weekend, objected to the Powers pick.
He left the convention before the final vote was taken, saying he would support McMahon in the race.
"I like Frank Powers," he said. "But I think Mike is a better candidate. We should be willing to cross party lines to support the best candidate."
Dr. Wyne said he did not know how his support of McMahon would affect his position as borough GOP finance chair.
"I'm still a GOP party member," he said.
With the endorsement concluded after weeks of speculation and criticism of the party for failing to lock in a candidate, one Republican said, "Tonight, any ending is a happy ending."
Earlier yesterday, Lanza cited family concerns as his reason for not seeking the congressional seat.
"At the end of the day, it was the family," Lanza told the Advance. "The kids made the decision for me."
Lanza is the father of three children who range in age from 4 to 11 years old.
"They are right in the heart of the formative years," said Lanza. "I don't want to look back and count up the hundreds of things I wasn't there for the kids. I'm not willing to make that complete sacrifice."
Lanza said the Legislature's shorter session and generally shorter workweek was part of his decision.
The Legislature is in session for six months out of the year and lawmakers sometimes do their weekly business from Monday to Wednesday. Congress is in session for about 10 months a year, and representatives work in Washington five and sometimes seven days a week.
"I still miss things," Lanza said. "But in Albany, I might miss 30 things, as opposed to 100 things."
Lanza said he'd also considered moving his family to Washington, but said he was hesitant to uproot his children, and added that he values his Island roots too much.
"That would make me a non-Islander," he said. "I believe in this community. That's important to me."
Also last night, the party endorsed Lanza and Assemblyman Lou Tobacco (R-South Shore) for re-election to the Legislature.
The party also backed Richard Thomas to run against state Sen. Diane Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn); retired detective Joseph Cammarata against Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer (D-East Shore/Brooklyn), and attorney David Pascarella to take on Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Mid-Island). The party currently does not have a candidate to run against Assemblyman Matthew Titone (D-North Shore).
Last night's convention was also a valedictory of sorts for Fossella, with GOP candidates praising the congressman as they accepted their endorsements.
Lanza said that Islanders had been "blessed and privileged" to have Fossella serve them in Congress.
Alluding to the turbulent times Fossella and the party had undergone over the last month, Lanza, Fossella's good friend, said, "We've been through some rough waters over the last several weeks."
Lanza said, "How do we get through this? Together. As a family. That's how we get through this."
"I was happy to see Vito's name was mentioned the way it was," said Vito Fossella Sr.
Tom Wrobleski may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his polit.bureau blog at http://www.silive.com/newslogs/politics/.
Didn’t Cutis Sliwa throw his red beret in the ring?
Hopefully, not any more. Support the best candidate, but if it's not the GOP candidate, drop out of the GOP.
FReepmail me if you want on or off my New York ping list.
I heard nothing about it.
What do we know about Frank Powers’ stances on the issues?
This is a very good turn of events. Fort whatever reason, McCain is VERY popular on Staten Island. He will get between 68 and 72% on the Island which is 2/3 of the district. There is no senate race as a buffer. Frank is very wealthy. McMahon will have to go heavy pro abortion and pro gay marriage to get a dime from the national rat.There is NO Italian factor so that is even.
Put barack curious george mcgovern around Mike Mc Mahon’s neck and he really doesn’t have much of a chance.
Hopefully, not any more. Support the best candidate, but if it's not the GOP candidate, drop out of the GOP.
I woudn't underestimate his ambition.
Mike McMahon is a very popular city councilman for Staten Island. I’ve know him for years. He’s going to be a strong candidate. Before this, he there was talk of him running for Borough President. He can’t be underestimated. Powers is largely unknown. Staten Islanders have a history of crossing party lines. Democrats will vote for a Republican and vice versa. I’ll support Powers, but it’s going to be a tough battle.
Last I heard Bruno and the state GOP where waiting to respond to the gay marriage issue because Bruno does not want to offend his new blind BBF.
Last I heard Bruno and the state GOP where waiting to respond to the gay marriage issue because Bruno does not want to offend his new blind BFF.
Sorry for the double post.
Democrats in NY usually find their way to money. From Staten Island, $$ is right across the harbor. This is an easy opportunity for them to pick up a seat, or that at least is how they’ll see it. They won’t pass that up.
I am impressed that we have an election in Staten Island and not one of the candidates has a vowel at the end of their name (Richmond County being 38% Italian, the highest percentage of Italian Americans of any county in the US). This lends more credence to my belief that there is NO SUCH THING as the “Italian vote”, at least for voters under 60.
1. He is seen as "tough" which seems to impress the Wolf-Ticket salesmen who dominate the Staten Island electorate.
2. He is not aggressively religious (SI voters have a visceral dislike of evangelical protestantism, being "Italian Catholics" ie love the pageantry, but are lukewarm about the faith).
3. He is NOT a southerner.
Thanks for the ping!
He's represents Arizona (a Confederate territory) and born in the (Panama) Canal Zone and he's not a Southerner ? Dude ! Dubya's the Yankee, he was born in Connecticut.
I don’t think AZ and NM are considered part of ‘the south’.
Southwest, but still South. A number of folks in New Mexico and parts of rural Arizona have Southern accents. East NM is considered “Little Texas.” Had the Confederacy succeeded, at least the south half of both states (if not all eventually) would’ve become their states.