In a stunning move last night, the Staten Island GOP executive committee nominated former Rep. Vito Fossella to run for his old House seat.
Fossella, who chose not to run for re-election in 2008 after he admitted to fathering a child with his mistress, was not at the executive committee meeting. During the meeting, the committee interviewed two other candidates, Michael Allegretti and Michael Grimm, before voting overwhelmingly to nominate Fossella.Fossella’s name was put forward by party chair John Friscia.
“It is my firm belief that he is the strongest candidate we can field,” Friscia said, adding that he didn’t know if Fossella would run. “I have an obligation to pick the strongest candidate with the best chance of success.”
The full county committee still has to ratify the nomination and will meet next week.
Fossella has not yet publicly commented on the nomination or whether he will accept. But Rep. Peter King (R-NY) told Politico reporter Maggie Haberman today that Fossella is “strongly considering” accepting the nod and will make a decision too. King also reportedly said that Fossella wasn’t expecting the nomination.
Fossella’s opponents promised a bloody primary if he accepts.
One executive committee member told the Staten Island Advance that the surprise move was “shoved down our throats” with little time to debate.
“It was extremely rushed, and disrespectful to the committee. It deprived us of the right to vet Vito, to ask him anything about the scandal or his record or his plans for Congress,” the member said.
In 2008, Fossella was arrested for drunken driving in Virginia. After he called a woman who was not his wife to pick him up from jail, it was revealed that the two were in a relationship and had a three-year-old child together.
Fossella and his wife are still married.
Also last night, the Brooklyn Republicans’ executive committee nominated Allegretti for the seat. The district, which covers Staten Island and part of Brooklyn, is now represented by Democrat Mike McMahon.
Late update: Fossella is thinking about it, he says in a statement:
I am surprised and deeply humbled by the efforts last night to advance me as a candidate for the 13th Congressional District, a seat I was honored to hold for almost twelve years. Given my deep and abiding respect for the hardworking people of Staten Island and Brooklyn and my firm belief that our country is headed in the wrong direction, I am going to take a short period of time to properly consider this matter with loved ones, friends and supporters.