Ex-Rep. Vito Fossella’s attempted political comeback in the race for Staten Island borough president is one of the marquee down ballot contests in the Nov. 2 election.
The seven-term Republican congressman opted not to seek re-election for his House seat in 2008 after a drunk-driving bust in Virginia revealed he was quietly keeping a second family.
But that’s all in the past.
Aided with the help of a crucial endorsement from former President Donald Trump, Fossella narrowly defeated Councilman Steve Matteo in June’s Republican primary.
Fossella’s Democratic opponent, lawyer Mark Murphy, is the son of ex-Rep. John Murphy, who was convicted in the infamous Abscam sting operation in the 1970s. Leticia Remauro is the Conservative Party candidate.
Democratic sources on the island said not to count Murphy out. While Fossella has superior name recognition, he’s run a peek-a-boo campaign and Conservative Party candidate Remauro, who is well known as a former chairwoman of the borough’s Republican Party, is running an active campaign and could siphon votes from Fossella.
Other competitive races on the ballot after the mayoral contest pitting Democrat Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, against Republican and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa:
— Also in Staten Island, former Democrat Brooklyn Councilman Sal Albanese, who’s run for mayor and is a frequent de Blasio critic, is seeking to represent his adopted borough in the Council’s 50th District that takes in the mid-island and communities that straddle the eastern shore near the Verrazano Bridge.
He faces off against Republican David Carr, a chief of staff to outgoing Councilman Steve Matteo and Conservative Party candidate George Wonica.
Albanese moved from Bayridge to New Dorp the mid-Island district five years ago. He has racked up endorsements from 40 unions, including all the groups representing police and firefighters, giving him a shot to steal a seat long held by Republicans.
Albanese, 72, who last served in the Council in 1997, opposes “defunding” of the police. “Staten Island deserves a councilman who will be strong on public safety,” he said.
— In the more conservative but demographically changing 32nd Council District in Queens, Republican Joann Ariola faces off against Democrat Felicia Singh to succeed term-limited GOP Councilman Eric Ulrich. The district includes the homeowner-heavy neighborhoods of Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and parts of the Rockaways.
Ariola is chairwoman of the Queens Republican Party and president of the Howard Beach-Lindenwood Civic Association, Singh is a public high school teacher and espouses the views of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
The candidates present opposing choices for voters.
Ariola is running as the law and order candidate, opposes defunding the police and has the backing of police unions. Singh supports slashing the NYPD budget by $1 billion and repurposing the money for other basic and social services for the needy.
Ariola supports preserving and expanding gifted and talented programs in the schools; Sing opposes them as a form of segregation.
“This is a common sense district and I’m the common sense candidate,” Ariola said.
Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district but there are warning signs that moderate Democrats believe Singh’s views are out of sync with the district. Three elected officials whose legislative districts overlap with the Council district — state Sen. Joe Addabbo, and Assembly members Jenifer Rajkumar and Stacy Amato — have refused to endorse Singh.
Singh insisted her views are aligned with voters, noting her victory in the Democratic primary. “People don’t have jobs,” she said.
— There’s a competitive race in the 48th CD in southern Brooklyn, pitting Democrat Steve Saperstein against Republican Inna Vernikov. Democrats greatly outnumber Republicans in the district, but Donald Trump trounced Joe Biden in the district
—- There’s also a special election to fill Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin’s Harlem state Senate, the 30th district. Democrat Cordell Cleare is the favorite against Republican Oz Sultan and Shana Harmongoff, who is running on the independent “Hope for NY” line. Benjamin vacated the seat when Gov., Kathy Hochul tapped him to become Lt. Gov when she moved up to the governorship following disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation amid a sexual harassment scandal.
— In Long Island, the heated race for Nassau County district attorney is up for grabs.
Democratic State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor and rising star in the party, faces off against Republican Anne Donnelly, a career prosecutor who is currently deputy chief of the Nassau County County DA’s office.
The seat is open because former DA Madeline Singas was appointed a judge to the state Court of Appeals.
Donnelly’s campaign and the GOP have pounded Kaminsky for backing the controversial bail reform law as part of the 2019 state budget that eliminated cash bail for most “non-violent” crimes. The law was amended in 2020 following an outcry from law enforcement and examples of defendants released on bail committing more crimes.
In the Nassau County executive race, Democrat incumbent Laura Curran is expected to prevail over Republican Bruce Blakeman, a Town of Hempstead councilman. But a GOP insider said the race is tightening because of President Biden’s plummeting approval ratings in Nassau.
There’s also a race for Manhattan district attorney.
Democrat Alvin Bragg is expected to prevail in the heavily Democratic county over Republican Thomas Kenniff.
Bragg is a liberal former prosecutor and top deputy in the New York State Attorney General’s office.
Kenniff is a former prosecutor and Iraq military veteran and has vowed to push the state Legislature to revisit the “disastrous” bail reform law.