The way the Post tells it, Fernando Ferrer’s campaign is “on the defensive after an adviser indicated that Staten Island was essentially being written off.” Obviously it’s bad form to write off any voter—especially since there’s no electoral college for the five boroughs—and poor strategy to say that you’re doing so if you are. But since campaigns short on time and money have to concentrate on areas where they are likely to get a good number of votes, why wouldn’t Ferrer—or any smart Democrat—shun Staten Island?
In last year’s presidential election, the city went for John Kerry by 3 to one 1, but Dubya took 56 percent in Richmond County. With 60 percent of the vote, Carl McCall beat George Pataki in the five boroughs in 2002, but the governor won three-quarters of Staten Island’s ballots. Mike Bloomberg won a narrow citywide victory over Mark Green four years ago, but Staten Island gave the Republican nearly 80 percent of the vote. And in the three mayoral elections before 2001, Rudy Giuliani took 81 percent against Ruth Messinger in 1997, 84 percent against David Dinkins in 1993, and 78 percent against Dinkins in 1989—proportions totally out of whack with the story elsewhere in the city, even in Rudy’s reelection romp against Ruth.
Despite that history, Ferrer didn’t seem to ignore Staten Island during the primary campaign, from being the sole candidate to show up for a schools forum on the Island in May to making the ferry landing his final campaign stop the day before the September 13 primary. Of course, Freddy could shift tactics in the general election campaign. But since part of Ferrer’s ostensible strategy is to get Democrats who’ve been voting Republican to come back to the fold, he might find fertile fields in the southernmost borough.
While Staten Island is often described as the city’s most Republican borough, it is still not Republican, at least as registrations go. Democrats outnumber Republicans there 3 to 2. That’s nowhere near as vast an advantage as the 9:1 edge the Dems have in the Bronx, but it does mean that if Ferrer has any real interest in wooing Giuliani Democrats, Staten Island’s got plenty of targets.