Dems to Vito: You’re going down … this time!

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The Democratic Party — which failed to do even basic behind-the-scenes work for its candidate in 2006 — now says it will go after Rep. Vito Fossella (R–Bay Ridge) with a vengeance in 2008.

The powerful Democratic Congressional Committee — or the “D triple C,” as it’s known in politico parlance — announced via its blog that the city’s only Republican congressman has been targeted for elimination in the next election.

“We will aggressively work in districts targeting ethically challenged incumbents like … Vito Fossella,” read the announcement posted on the Stakeholder, the DCCC’s blog.

The implication of the announcement is clear: Whoever runs against Fossella in 2008 will be flush with the very cash and volunteers that the DCCC spent elsewhere in 2006.

For Steve Harrison, the Democratic lawyer who ran against Fossella last time, the DCCC salvo is especially bittersweet.

Harrison spent most of the election fruitlessly trying to persuade the national party to get involved in his race. Yet despite his tiny war chest and lack of national support, Harrison got 43 percent of the vote.

“Fossella should have been targeted [in 2006], and the results show that,” said Harrison. “Had the district been targeted in 2006, the results may have been different.”

Harrison isn’t sure if he will run again, but he acknowledged that the DCCC’s decision will “definitely enter into the calculation.”

Like Harrison before them, national Democratic leaders now say they will focus on Fossella’s alleged — and admitted — ethical lapses.

During the last campaign, for example, the five-term congressman came under fire for using campaign funds for personal pleasure trips to the Lodge in Vail and the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

He also improperly used the Sesame Street characters Elmo and Rosita in a campaign mailing.

“The 2006 cycle proved that ethics matters to average voters,” the DCCC blog continued.

Meanwhile, Fossella’s camp fired back with some sharp-edged political rhetoric of its own.

“The people of Brooklyn are more sophisticated than these political hatchet-men from Washington think,” said a Fossella campaign spokesperson.

“Brooklyn residents know that Vito is fighting for their priorities by keeping our nation safe, reducing taxes and protecting Social Security and Medicare.”

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