Molinari: Anybody But Straniere, Please

[img_assist|nid=37|title=Guy Molinari.|desc=Getty Images|link=none|align=right|width=206|height=300]For almost thirty years, Republicans have held onto the 13th Congressional district and this November, with the nomination of Bob Straniere, that run is likely to end.

“Really, just about anybody off the street would have been a better candidate,” said Guy Molinari, a Republican who defeated an incumbent Democrat in 1980 to begin the G.O.P.’s lengthy reign in the district, which includes all of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn.

When asked if coattails from Republican presidential candidate John McCain would make a difference, Molinari said, “No. It’ll help him, but it won’t be enough to have him win.”

Molinari, who endorsed the Conservative Party candidate, Tim Cochrane, said his party could have won the seat if anybody but Straniere had been nominated. “We could not have picked a worse candidate. Joe the Plumber would fare very favorably to Bob Straniere,” he said.

“I’d pay for a one-way ticket for him to go any place in the country just to get out of our hair. We thought we were finished with him,” said Molinari.

Straniere spokesman Marco Desena responded, “Bob’s tired of this. If Guy Molinari works even a quarter as hard to keep this seat as he’s working to lose this seat, then of course we’d be in a better position.” 

Desena went on to say, “But even with all that [Molinari]’s doing, we’re comfortable where we are in the race and we’re working hard to ensure Bob is the next congressman from Staten Island and Brooklyn.” 

Also running are Democrat Mike McMahon, the favorite, and Independence Party candidate Carmine Morano. McMahon, a current City Councilman, has $482,984 in his campaign account, far more than anyone else running. Also, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has pledged to pour money into the race, something the National Republican Campaign Committee isn’t likely to match. (On the NRCC web site, the 13th C.D. isn’t even listed among their “Races to Watch.”)

Straniere was an Assemblyman for more than two decades before losing a Republican primary in 2004. Critics say he was unresponsive to constituents, distracted by countless lawsuits filed against him by former business partners, and rarely actually in the district.

The road to Straniere’s nomination was unexpected. The incumbent Republican, Vito Fossella, was arrested for drunk driving in Virginia. Later, the married congressman and father of three confessed that he was driving that night to see his mistress and love child. Then, after a number of local Republican elected officials opted not to run, the party backed a wealthy activist, Frank Powers. One night in late June, he died of a heart attack. 

Although he’s been endorsed by the former Republican governor, George Pataki, and two Republican congressman in the state, Peter King and Randy Kuhl, none of the Republican elected officials on Staten Island have endorsed his candidacy.

Molinari: Anybody But Straniere, Please