The last scandal-scarred Republican to represent Staten Island before Congressman Michael Grimm is not interested in going back to Washington.
Despite renewed chatter over a comeback after Mr. Grimm announced he would soon resign from the House following a guilty plea to a federal tax evasion charge, former Congressman Vito Fossella said on NY1 last night that he would not be interested in returning to Washington.
“The short answer is no, not really,” Mr. Fossella told host Errol Louis after being asked whether he would want to run for Congress again. “I’m very humbled and flattered that people put my name forward and I was deeply privileged to represent the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn for many years in Congress and before that in the City Council.”
“For now I think I’m in a good place in my life,” he added. “My hope is that the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn go to the polls, when they go to the polls, and just choose the best person for all of us.”
Mr. Fossella was a rising star in the GOP when a DUI arrest in 2008 led to the revelation that he had an affair resulting in a three-year-old child while he was married. Mr. Fossella did not seek re-election and a Democrat, Michael McMahon, succeeded him in the Staten Island and Brooklyn-based seat.
Despite his scandal, Mr. Fossella remains relatively popular in the district and there have been intermittent calls for him to launch a comeback. The former congressman now holds a lucrative position with former Senator Al D’Amato’s lobbying firm, Park Strategies.
Mr. Grimm would go on to defeat Mr. McMahon in 2010 before facing a 20-count indictment in 2014 related to his management of a Manhattan restaurant before he was elected to Congress. Despite his indictment and, Mr. Grimm claimed he was innocent and won re-election in November. He pleaded guilty to a single felony charge last week.
The Staten Island Republican establishment appears to be coalescing around Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan to run in the special election, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo must call next year, to replace Mr. Grimm. Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis is also vying for the GOP’s support.
On the Democratic side, Mr. McMahon is actively exploring a return to Congress. Staten Island Assemblyman Michael Cusick is a front-runner to win the Staten Island Democratic Party’s support, however.
Mr. Fossella said he just wants competent leadership, regardless of ideology.
“This nation is thirsting for leadership and wants good, solid government at all levels,” he said. “And I think the people deserve that, I don’t think they’re getting it right now.”