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Two Conservatives Battle For Staten Island Seat

GOP candidate, pushing for traditionally Republican seat, buttressed by RNC attack ads

By Bruce Morton/CNN


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (Oct. 30) -- Most of New York's 13th congressional district is on Staten Island; you get there from Manhattan on the ferry. The rest is Brooklyn. From Staten Island to Brooklyn, you take the Verrazano Bridge. It's been a Republican district for years.

Borough President Guy Molinari held the seat, then passed it to his daughter Susan, a rising GOP star and keynoter at the 1996 convention, who abandoned politics to become a CBS News anchorwoman.


Vito Fossella, a 32-year-old city councilman, is the Republican candidate to fill out her term. He's a good campaigner.

"Everybody stay warm, it's gettin' a little nippy out there!" he said congenially to one crowd.

Forty-nine year-old state assemblyman Eric Vitaliano is the Democrat, but he's a conservative Democrat who has often been endorsed by the Conservative party, and recently, by environmentalists. Both Fossella and Vitaliano claim credit for stopping the huge Fresh Kills landfill, but Vitaliano wrote the law that will shut it down.

"Today, standing in front of Fresh Kills, it is my pleasure to endorse Eric Vitaliano in his bid as U.S. congressman from the 13th congressional district," declared Susan Babcock of the League of Conservation Voters.


The two candidates, Vitaliano and Fossella, are a lot alike -- economic and social conservatives, like most Staten Islanders. The big difference between them in this election may be money: about $750,000.

"Politicians like Eric Vitaliano keep raising our taxes," warns an issue ad paid for by the Republican National Committee. Ads like this don't mention Fossella but trash Vitaliano.

Said Fossella, "We use many different ways of reaching the voters, and television is one of them." And RNC money is OK? "As far as I know, it's legitimate," he says.

Vitaliano says the ad is wrong, citing tax cuts he has voted for, and thinks the voters know it.

new york

"I think you can spend, you know, $3 million and it's not going to change who I am and how I am perceived, particularly by the people of Staten Island," he said.

Whether that's true or not will be more evident next Tuesday.

In Other News:

Friday Oct. 31, 1997

Thompson Calls An End To Senate Funds Hearings
Sen. Thompson Says He Thinks Some Witnesses Lied
Fog Delays Clinton's Florida Trip
Car Tax Opposition Propels Gilmore's Candidacy
Two Conservatives Battle For Staten Island Seat
Whitman's Lead Shrinks In N.J. Governor's Race
Are There Ghosts Haunting The White House?

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