An Election Surprise … in New York?!


2006 will be known as the year of the fait accompli in Empire State politics. Getting a Hillary Clinton mailer over the weekend felt like receiving last week’s “TV Guide” in the mail. On a Metro North train Friday night, one well-dressed, newspaper-reading commuter told another that there was no gubernatorial vote in New York this year. And can you blame him? It seems like Eliot Spitzer’s been governor since March. In legislative races, 56 candidates for federal and state office are running unopposed. Even Alan Hevesi looks more likely to be impeached than defeated at the polls.

Of course, there are a few real contests tomorrow: GOP reps John Sweeney, Thomas Reynolds, and Sue Kelly are major Democratic targets, there are several State Senate seats in play, and even an assembly race in the city has people excited. But even these races aren’t all surprises: One of the big State Senate contests, the one between Nick Spano and Andrea Stewart-Cousins, is just a rematch of the 2004 squeaker that Spano won by 18 votes.

But hark! People from a some Democratic clubs in areas of the city where there are no real races will be headed to the 13th Congressional district, which spans the water between Brooklyn and Staten Island. Republican Vito Fossella is the nine-year incumbent, and it’s a pretty good bet that he’ll hang on against Democrat Steve Harrison. But not a totally safe bet. A few things have fallen Harrison’s way: The Advance backed Fossella but the Times endorsed Harrison, and Gen. Wesley Clark’s appearance on his behalf suggests some national Dems think Harrison has a shot. If turnout works out right on what’s shaping up to be a big Democratic night, some Dems say Fossella/Harrison could be the surprise of the evening.