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New York: Oros Drops House Bid, Cites GOP’s Dire Straits

Westchester County Legislator George Oros on Monday dropped his bid for the 19th district Republican nomination, leaving Iraq War veteran Kieran Michael Lalor as the likely GOP nominee against freshman Rep. John Hall (D).

Late last month, Lalor was endorsed by 19th district GOP leaders over Oros and former Rep. Joe DioGuardi. In a letter to supporters, Oros said forcing a primary would be harmful to the party. Oros, who had been endorsed by Hall’s predecessor, former Rep. Sue Kelly (R), and by former Gov. George Pataki (R), who lives in the Hudson Valley district, said it is a bad cycle for Republicans and that the GOP may not have the resources to compete in many House races around the country.

“My goal throughout this process was to defeat John Hall and return this seat to a Republican, not to defeat a Republican,” Oros wrote. “If this were any other year, a primary might be in order, even healthy for our party — but clearly not in 2008.”

Hall began the cycle as a major Republican target, and the GOP originally had a top-tier challenger in wealthy businessman Andrew Saul. But Saul abruptly dropped his bid around Thanksgiving, making the district far less competitive.

Through March 31, Hall had more than $1.14 million in his campaign account; Lalor had $63,000.

Treadwell Set to Start Ads on Albany Stations

Former New York secretary of state Sandy Treadwell (R) is set to air his first television ads of the campaign in the Empire State’s 20th district, according to a knowledgeable GOP source.

Treadwell still has to secure the Republican nomination on Sept. 9, but his willingness to go on television early suggests that freshman Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) faces a real race.

The $75,000 ad buy was scheduled to begin this week in the Albany media market, which covers about three-quarters of the district. The ad will run for at least one week at 800 gross ratings points, a substantial media buy.

Treadwell, who is personally wealthy, raised more than $1.6 million for his campaign through the first quarter, including almost $949,000 of his own money. The former Sports Illustrated writer showed about $929,000 on hand on March 31.

But the Congresswoman should be ready for the fight. Gillibrand raised an astounding $3.1 million through the first quarter and had almost $2.5 million in the bank at the end of March.

Even in the current political environment, Republicans believe the 20th district is competitive, and that former Rep. John Sweeney’s (R) personal troubles gave the seat to the Democrats in 2006. Gillibrand defeated Sweeney 53 percent to 47 percent.

Race for Fossella Seat Beginning to Clarify

The race to replace embattled Rep. Vito Fossella (R) is starting to take shape, as frontrunners for the Democratic and Republican nominations emerged last week.

On the Republican side, the Staten Island GOP endorsed Frank Powers, a retired Wall Street executive and major political donor who has never run for public office before. The party turned to Powers after its two leading choices, Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan and state Sen. Andrew Lanza, declined to run.

Powers has told Republican leaders that he is willing to spend $500,000 of his own money on the race, and he expressed confidence that he can easily raise just as much. He is unlikely to face major opposition in the Sept. 9 primary.

Meanwhile, New York City Councilman Michael McMahon picked up the support of the Staten Island Democratic Party last week and indicated that he also has the support of powerful state Assemblyman Vito Lopez, the Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman.

In McMahon, Democrats have the Staten Island-based elected official that they have long craved to run for the 13th district seat. He must first get through a primary with attorney Steve Harrison, the 2006 Democratic nominee who held Fossella to 57 percent of the vote, his lowest total ever.

Although the district has a 5-3 Democratic edge in voter enrollment, most voters are conservative, and the race to replace Fossella should be close to the end.

Democratic List Grows as GOP Field Shrinks

The highly competitive race to replace retiring Rep. Tom Reynolds (R) became clearer on the Republican side last week and murkier on the Democratic side.

On the Republican side, Iraq War veteran and author David Bellavia dropped out of the race in the name of party unity, leaving wealthy businessman Chris Lee as the sole GOP candidate. Bellavia resisted entreaties by party leaders to enter the race to take on House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D) instead.

But the Democrats, meanwhile, saw a fourth major candidate enter the race, when Erie County Legislator Kathy Konst told the Buffalo News that she planned to run.

Konst is seen as a maverick in local Democratic circles and is often on the outs with party leaders. A former teacher, she runs her own advertising and marketing company and is active on local chambers of commerce.

Konst joins millionaire factory owner Jack Davis, attorney Alice Kryzan and Iraq War veteran Jon Powers in the Democratic race.

Independence Party Gives Line to Hanna

Businessman Richard Hanna (R) on Monday secured the endorsement of the New York Independence Party, meaning his name will appear on at least a second ballot line this November in his battle with freshman Rep. Michael Arcuri (D).

“Richard Hanna brings to the Congressional race both the experience and the vision that America needs,” said Doreen St. Thomas, the chairwoman of the party’s screening committee. “He is a true independent — willing to stand up for the people rather than placing a priority on party.”

Arcuri had the Independence Party line when he won his seat in 2006, taking about 7,000 votes on the ballot line.

Political parties can cross-endorse candidates in New York; Arcuri is almost certain to win the ballot line of the Working Families Party, while Hanna will surely be the nominee of the Conservative Party.

The Independence Party grew out of the political movement led by Ross Perot in the 1990s, though it has gone through several iterations since.

— Nathan L. Gonzales and Josh Kurtz

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