Steve Harrison, New York's Invisible Democrat
One of the phenomena I find most puzzling in this election cycle is the invisibility of Democratic congressional candidate Steve Harrison.
By all indications, Democrats are set to sweep the elections in New York State this year. Up-ballot, both Spitzer and Clinton are out-polling all rivals by margins that compare favorably to those for support of hot and cold running water. The newest Q-Poll gives George Bush an approval/disapproval rating of 28/68 - and that's an improvement. We are on the cusp of an earthquake. So why have most people in this most political of cities never heard of Harrison?
Harrison is running in the thirteenth district, against republican incumbent Vito Fossella. Fossella is as much of an agenda poodle as you can be without crawling behind George Bush on a leash - though if pressed, he would probably not even refuse that, with a voting record in lockstep with his caucus a staggering 92% of the time. That's higher than the caucus average.
In addition, just to roll off the stats, he took ten grand from Tom DeLay, $62,700 from Big Oil, $45,000 from the pharmaceutical lobby, $1,500 from Halliburton, voted to cut student loans by $12,7 billion, voted for the energy bill, against drug re-importation from Canada, against the Endangered Species Act reform bill, the list just goes on and on and on.
In addition, Fossella has been in the news recently for good, old-fashioned republican sleaze. Luxury travel paid for with campaign funds (a big no-no), some funny business with government-funded campaign mailings (another really big no-no, to the tune of $160,000), lobbyist-funded skiing trips, and whatever other flotsam and jetsam accrue to Members who consistently vote against their constituents. He didn't even have the common decency to distance himself from Ann Coulter's remarks about the 9/11 widows, though his district lost quite a number of people in the attacks.
By rights, Fossella should be toast this year.
However, Harrison lags significantly in the money race, with $41,000 raised in Q2 to Fossella's $155,300 raised and $519,500 on hand. Being completely unknown is the main factor in that result, considering the many variables in Harrison's favor.
Another factor is likely the conventional wisdom that a Brooklynite can't win on the island, with Frank Barbaro's campaign serving as Exhibit A. In this case, however, the conventional wisdom is wrong. Harrison's socially moderate, economically Progressive and populist agenda is resonating on the island, helped in part by the fact that he has family ties there. He is not perceived as an outsider in the way Barbaro was - it's that simple. Ask his mom and dad - they live there.
New Yorkers have a pick-up opportunity on our doorstep. Instead of, or in addition to, sending love to Pennsylvania or wherever, let's literally put our own house in order. Take a closer look at Steve Harrison, right here, and if you can, show the man some love - click here.