Congressional hopeful Mike McMahon’s bid to replace retiring Rep. Vito Fossella got a boost on Sunday when Sen. Charles Schumer threw his weight behind the Staten Island councilman’s campaign, despite a longstanding practice of not endorsing during intra-party squabbles.
McMahon is the favorite to become the Democratic nominee to succeed the scandal-tarred Fossella, whose political descent began with a May 1 drunk-driving arrest in Virginia and led to subsequent revelations that he had sired a lovechild with a woman not his wife.
Also running for the nomination is the man whom Fossella dispatched in 2006, Bay Ridge lawyer Steve Harrison.
We asked Schumer why he diverted from his usual neutrality to come out for McMahon so early.
“Because he’s so good,” the senator told The Brooklyn Paper, the lone reporter covering the July 13 event on Bay Ridge’s 69th Street pier. “I have endorsed when I think the candidate is extraordinary and I think Mike McMahon is extraordinary.”
He also added, “I have nothing bad to say about any other candidates, but I have a lot of good things to say about Mike McMahon.”
Such “things” included McMahon’s work on bringing mass transit to Staten Island and reducing traffic on local roadways.
“He’s not only smart, but he’s hard working and he gets it,” Schumer said of McMahon. “I know what it takes to be a Congressman and this guy’s got it.”
McMahon admitted that he would have to work hard to convince Bay Ridge residents to support a Staten Islander over favorite son Harrison, but said he would bring the trans-Narrows district together.
“People need to know that I started as a civic association president in one neighborhood in Staten Island, and now everyone in the district, not just the people who live in my former civic association area, see that I’m fighting for them in the City Council,” said the 50-year-old 10-year Council vet. And I am certain that everyone in Bay Ridge will feel the same way. … Anyone who aspires to higher office has to build bridges to a new community.”
Though he touted his several specific bills in the Council, he said voters in the September primary should focus on electability.
“I raised a half-million dollars in a month and got the endorsement of people like Chuck Schumer and Anthony Weiner,” he said. “I’ve won three elections and Steve Harrison has lost three. I start on real solid ground. You’ve got to be able to put it away and what everyone is saying is that Mike McMahon can put this one away.”
Harrison could not be reached for comment.