Embattled New York Congressman Vito Fossella (R)'s political career has gone up in smoke in just one short week.
It was bad enough when Fossella, the last remaining Republican Congressman from New York City, was arrested last week for DWI. "Vino" Fossella, as the New York Daily News has seen fit to dub him, blew a .17 into the Breathalyzer, twice the legal limit, and apparently had some trouble with his ABC's:
Mr. Fossella, who was driving a white Honda Civic, was stopped about 12:10 a.m. on Thursday, and told a police officer he had had two or three glasses of wine about two hours earlier. Mr. Fossella was asked to recite the alphabet between the letters D and T. “The subject immediately started and said ‘A, B,’ ” the officer wrote in his report.
After the officer explained the test again, Mr. Fossella started: “D, E, F, H, G, H, I, J, L,” and then was able to finish.
If found guilty of drunk driving, he faces a mandatory five days in jail, at the minimum. Frankly, that is now the least of his problems. Seems that the good Congressman, married with three kids, has a daughter from an extramarital affair. The mother of his daughter, Laura Fay, was the woman who provided bail for Fossella after his arrest, after Fossella had told the arresting officer that he was "picking up his daughter", and listed the street where Fay lived as his destination. After several days, Fossella has now publicly admitted the affair and his paternity:
“I have had a relationship with Laura Fay, with whom I have a three year old daughter," Fossella said in a statement.
"My personal failings and imperfections have caused enormous pain to the people I love and I am truly sorry.
"While I understand that there will be many questions, including those about my political future, making any political decisions right now are furthest from my mind".
It is pretty clear, however, that Fossella's career is in serious trouble. Already facing a significant Democratic challenge from New York City Councilman Domenic Recchia and attorney Steve Harrison, Fossella is now extremely unlikely to run for reelection. From the Washington Post:
GOP political insiders say Fossella, whose blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit when he was busted at 12:15 a.m. last Thursday, stands little chance of running for reelection at this point, and their Democratic counterparts agree. Buzz on the Hill and around town Wednesday was that Fossella would be announcing sooner rather than later that he won't seek another term in what has quickly become a hotly contested seat for embattled Republicans. Fossella was not voting in the House Wednesday.
The local press agrees:
But one of the state's top Republicans told The Post, "He's not going to be able to win re-election if he is the father."
Sources said party officials have privately discussed who could best hold onto the seat for the GOP should Fossella end up in deeper trouble.
Names being bandied about include Staten Island DA Daniel Donovan and city Councilman James Oddo.
In a slightly Democratic-leaning district (D+0.8), this is yet another potential open-seat nightmare for Fossella's party. After his admission, the biggest question remaining is whether Fossella will finish out his term.
If he does resign before July 1st, New York Governor David Paterson could call a special election in which the state parties would be responsible for picking the candidates, which could lead to all manner of backroom deals brokered behind closed doors. In particular, it's possible that one faction of the state Democratic Party could lobby for a candidate from Staten Island, Fossella's home and the population center of the district. That could leave Recchia and Harrison, the current declared candidates, out in the cold.
But that's all speculation. For now, we know that Fossella is in unimaginable trouble, his political career is sunk, and we have another top-tier race for November.