It can't be fun to be Tom Cole who, as chair of the NRCC, has the unenviable task of electing Republicans to the House of Representatives. Hell, already in 2008 he's lost 2 seats and it's not even November yet. On his watch so far this cycle, the committee has been plagued by recruiting failures, anemic fundraising and yes, every now and then, a good old fashioned bout of bad luck.
Enter NY-13's Vito Fossella, a moderate Republican representing NY-13, a D+1 district that encompasses Brooklyn and Staten Island, who until 2 weeks ago had been listed as likely to retain his seat by the Cook Political Report. And then, as Jonathan reported on Thursday, Vito got arrested.
The Politico picks up the story.
Fossella was arrested last Thursday in Virginia, with a blood alcohol level of 0.17 -- over twice the legal limit in the state. If found guilty, he would have to serve five days in jail, an outcome analysts said could present major political problems.
"The prospect of jail time would make it very hard for him to run again," said Cook Political Report House analyst David Wasserman. "The difference between serving jail time and pleading down to a lesser charge makes a huge difference in Fossella's political future."
Ah, but if only his problems stopped there. WaPo's The Sleuth:
According to May 1 police report, a copy of which was obtained by the Sleuth, Fossella told police he was on his way to pick up his sick daughter at her home in Alexandria and take her to the hospital. But the next day at a news conference, Fossella said he was driving to the suburbs in the wee hours of the morning to see friends.
Fossella was specific with the arresting officer about where he was headed. He gave a street name where he said he was picking up his daughter. That street, it turns out, is the same street where retired Lt. Col. Laura Fay lives with her three-year-old daughter. Fay, according to the New York Daily News, picked up Fossella from the police station.
The nut of Fossella's real problem here:
Fossella, who has three children with his wife, Mary Pat, changed his story a few times about why he left a Dupont Circle area bar, the Logan Tavern, and drove across the river to the Virginia suburbs.
Which is why all the buzz is that Fossella is likely to announce fairly soon that he won't run for re-election this fall.
GOP political insiders say Fossella, whose blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit when he was busted at 12:15 a.m. last Thursday, stands little chance of running for reelection at this point, and their Democratic counterparts agree. Buzz on the Hill and around town Wednesday was that Fossella would be announcing sooner rather than later that he won't seek another term in what has quickly become a hotly contested seat for embattled Republicans. Fossella was not voting in the House Wednesday.
Which puts NY-13 challenger Democrat Steve Harrison, who is among those Dem challengers who have endorsed the Responsible Plan by the way, in the spotlight. We'll have to see who the Republicans nominate in Fossella's stead of course, before we have a real sense of whether Harrison is likely to translate Fossella's troubles into a Democratic victory in November, but if nothing else, this is yet another reason why we challenge everywhere.
For more on the race check out a blog named, unsubtly, NY13 blog; Retaking NY-13 From Vito Fossella. Also, hat tip to The Albany Project for Harrison's Act Blue page link. Go throw a few bones Harrison's way if you can. Virtually overnight this race has entered, at worst, toss-up territory.