Here’s a little more evidence of how frenzied things are getting in Staten Island, now that Representative Vito Fossella’s seat might be up for grabs in the fall.
Yesterday I reported that, according to Independence Party state executive committee member Frank Morano, the I.P. is interviewing candidates for Fossella’s seat on May 25.
That isn’t the whole story. Due to a long (and somewhat complicated) internal fight, two factions have developed that want a voice in how the Independence Party deals with that race: Morano and state party chair Frank MacKay are on one side, with Independence Party Staten Island County Committee chair Sarah Lyons, and others, on the other side.
(I don’t want to overstate the role of the I.P. here, but they do deliver votes.)
Lyons called me this morning to say that the county committee has already interviewed four candidates for upcoming races: Democratic Assemblyman Mike Cusick of Staten Island, his Republican challenger David Pascarella Democratic State Senator Diane Savino of Staten Island and Brooklyn, and Democratic attorney Steve Harrison of Brooklyn.
Lyons said the screening committee will make a recommendation to the county committee’s nine-member executive committee, who will vote on endorsement before petitioning begins next month.
In a follow-up conversation, Lyons said the county committee discussed "the possibility of running for the congressional seat," with Cusick and Savino, but that they were there seeking support for their own re-elections.
UPDATE: Frank Morano called to say that only state executive committee has the authority to issue Wilson Pakula forms — which allows candidates from one party to run on the ballot line of a different party line — and they can do so for every office in New York City, except for the three citywide offices (mayor, public advocate and comptroller).
Sarah Lyons and her supporters within the Independence Party have appealed the state supreme court ruling that gave this power to the state executive committee, but no ruling has been made.
Morano also said that even if he and his supporters lose the court fight, they still have the upper hand. That’s because, Morano said, Fossella’s seat is a bicounty seat. And for those seats, the authority to issue Wilson Pakula’s rests with the state executive committee, which is aligned with Morano’s faction.