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Fossella Out?

After being arrested for driving while intoxicated, New York Congressman Vito Fossella may have a difficult time sticking around, and he could be preparing to announce he will not seek re-election as early as today, the Washington Post's Sleuth writes. Add another headache for beleaguered House Republicans: Fossella's Staten Island district is prime swing territory.

Busted a week ago after running a red light in Alexandria, just outside Washington, Fossella's troubles have only mounted in recent days. After originally telling officers he was on the way to take his daughter to the hospital, Fossella later said he was simply going to visit friends, at 12:15 a.m. He was later sprung from jail by a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, Laura Fay, whose house is just a few miles from where Fossella was pulled over.

Fay divorced, according to The Sleuth, with no children, though she now has a young daughter. The congressman's lead communications expert, who has widely been described as a crisis communicator, has refused to answer questions about whether the girl is Fossella's daughter. Fossella and his wife have three children.

Republican insiders are buzzing at the possibility that Fossella will announce his plans to retire after this Congress, and if he does, the National Republican Congressional Committee will have to add another prime Democratic target to their list of seats to defend. Fossella already trailed in fundraising, with just $248,000 in the bank at the end of March compared with New York City Councilman Domenic Recchia's $325,000, and was likely to face a tough race.

Fossella beat attorney Steve Harrison, who will face Recchia in the state's primary, by a fourteen-point margin in 2006, and his winning percentages have decreased since peaking at 70% in 2002. The district voted for Al Gore over President Bush by eight points in 2000, but favored Bush by ten points in 2004 after his response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Democrats may consider a candidate other than Harrison, who has limited fundraising abilities, and Recchia, who represents a city council district in Brooklyn, where the Congressional district takes in just a small piece. But the party has for several cycles coveted the last remaining Republican seat that touches any part of New York City, and should Fossella vacate the position, he will give them their best chance to date.