How much does the Republican establishment on Staten Island hate former Assemblyman Robert Straniere? So much so that the Republican-Conservative borough president of that island paradise has endorsed Straniere’s Democratic rival for the long-GOP seat being vacated by Rep. Vito Fossella.
Beep James Molinaro backed Councilman Mike McMahon at the Staten Island Ferry terminal last Saturday.
“Mike McMahon has always been there for Staten Island, and now Staten Island needs to be there for him,” Molinaro said. “Mike has consistently delivered for Staten Island on increased ferry service, a long-term solid waste plan, new parks and libraries, and more nurses for our schools. I know he’ll bring that same fight for the district to Washington, and that’s why I am endorsing him as the best and only choice.”
Of course, there is another choice — Republican nominee Robert Straniere.
Alas, the Republican and Conservative party feud with Straniere goes back to 2004, when Staten Island GOP leaders dissed Straniere and backed then-Councilman Vincent Ignizio in that year’s primary. Ignizio went on to defeat the assemblyman, who now owns a hot dog restaurant in Manhattan, where he also lives.
Straniere, in a statement, trashed Molinaro’s endorsement of McMahon as “petty.”
“Sadly, time and time again, we have seen Jim Molinaro blatantly cast aside the fundamental principles of his own Conservative Party for petty, personal vendettas,” the statement said.
“This endorsement is a disservice not only to the Conservative Party and its members, but to all the conservative voters of the 13th Congressional District who want to elect a genuine conservative candidate, like myself, who will truly advance the policies, programs, interests and ideals that I share with the Conservative Party.
“The differences between my 24-year conservative voting record and my opponent’s liberal record couldn’t be more clear,” the statement said.
McMahon fired back that the Molinaro endorsement had nothing to do with pettiness and everything to do with a good working relationship between the two lawmakers.
“I am proud of the long record Borough President Molinaro and I have fighting for the best interests of Staten Island, and look forward to bringing that fight to Washington for all of the 13th Congressional District,” McMahon said in a statement.
McMahon’s campaign pointed out that Molinaro endorsed McMahon in both his Council victories.
If this campaign is becoming a slugfest, it started early. On Election Night, McMahon and Straniere didn’t waste any time bashing each other after their easy primary wins on Tuesday night. Straniere linked McMahon to Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama and claimed that McMahon would support tax increases. For his part, McMahon reminded voters that Straniere’s own party does not support his run for Congress.
That lack of support remains an oddity, given Straniere’s stated positions on the issues, as he repeated in his Friday afternoon statement:
• “I have consistently voted for tax cuts, where ‘tax-hike Mike’ has voted to raise taxes;
• “I want to reduce the size of government, and keep programs like health care in the private sector, whereas my opponent would expand government’s wasteful and inefficient management of health care programs;
• “I support school vouchers as a way to expand educational opportunities for our children, my opponent does not;
• “I am pro-life. It is not a belief, but a scientific fact, that life begins at conception. … My opponent is pro-abortion; and most importantly,
• “I support the conservative policies and programs of John McCain and Sarah Palin, while my opponent favors the liberal policies of Barack Obama and Joe Biden,” the statement added.