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« Strategy Memo: The Rove Primary | Blog Home Page | Coleman Leads MN Poll »

Fossella Drops Bid

Embattled Republican Rep. Vito Fossella will not run for re-election, the New York Times reported last night, relieving at least a small burden on House Republicans nervous at the prospect of another scandal-tainted member hurting their party's national image. Arrested for driving while intoxicated on May 1 in Alexandria, Virginia, Fossella was bailed out of jail by his girlfriend, with whom he has a young daughter. Fossella also has three children with his wife in New York.

"This choice was an extremely difficult one, balanced between my dedication to service to our great nation and the need to concentrate on healing the wounds that I have caused to my wife and family. Despite the personal mistakes I have made, I am touched by the outpouring of support and encouragement I have received from so many people," a statement from Fossella's office said. "While many have urged me to run for re-election, I believe this course of action is best for my family and our community."

Fossella, who at 43 is serving his fifth full term, had been under increasing pressure from Republican leader John Boehner in recent days to end his bid. Boehner unsubtly began making phone calls to potential candidates who might replace Fossella, most notably Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, while Democrats in Washington and New York began to pay new attention to a race they already believed they had an outside shot of winning.

Other Republicans considering a bid include State Senator Andrew Lanza and New York City Councilmembers Vincent Ignizio and James Oddo. 2006 Democratic nominee Steve Harrison is running again, as is councilmember Domenic Recchia, who represents a council district in the Brooklyn sliver of the Congressional seat. Democrats are also working on potential candidates who live on Staten Island, which makes up most of the district, including State Senator Diane Savino, Assemblyman Michael Cusick and councilman Michael McMahon.

Fossella's ouster is a mixed blessing for Republicans. Boehner is uninterested in seeing scandal-plagued members stick around and has taken a much harder line with trouble-makers than previous Republican leaders. But the party now has an additional seat in play: Al Gore beat President Bush in the district by eight points, though four years later security voters handed Bush a ten-point win. The district, by any measure, is marginal, and while Republicans have good prospective candidates to take over, this year has not proven favorable to the GOP.