Sabato's Crystal Ball

New York (13) House 2010


Crystal Ball Outlook: Likely D

Democratic candidate: Michael McMahon, Incumbent

Republican candidate: Michael Grimm

Recent updates from the Crystal Ball


In recent years, Staten Island, New York City’s south side suburban neighbor and New York State’s 13th district, has proven that it is spiced with all the proper Italian ingredients it needs for “Berlusconian” political controversy and scandal. Because of that fact, freshman Democratic congressman Michael McMahon was handed a made to-order political campaign in 2008, a campaign that he oven baked to perfection.

Winning New York’s southern-most district by a margin that encompassed nearly two-thirds of the votes, McMahon topped off a year of Republican mishap by becoming one of only a handful of Democrats ever elected in this meaty Republican district. Although Republican Presidential nominee John McCain was only able to capture 51 percent of the vote last year, President Bush’s campaign of 2004 was on high heat in this district, winning 55 percent of the vote. To this effect, there can be no question that this district comes out of the oven looking a little red every year. Republican troubles began early in 2008 however. Republican Representative Vito Fossella soured the Republican Party’s grip on the 13th District after a drunk-driving arrest in Virginia that led to revelations of an extramarital affair that he was engaged in and a seven year old child that had been born out of wedlock.  Sprinkled on top of the Republican incumbent scandal, the party’s choice to replace Fossella and challenge McMahon was retired Wall-Street executive Frank Powers, who died in June last year of a heart attack. By the end of the year, Fossella had hung up his political toque and the GOP has struggled to find a worthy replacement ever since.  

Although New York’s 13th congressional district has a notoriously dense population of Italian decedents, Staten Island remains New York’s whitest borough with the fewest amounts of immigrants today. Demographically, the odds of a Democrat stealing an election in this district are rare, a fact immediately apparent by the high stacks of the New York Times that typically remain at the end of the day. However, in a bizarre series of events, McMahon, a well-funded, freshmen, Democratic candidate, needed little prep-time to cruise to victory. In the 2008 election however, McMahon can expect to face number of political opponents whose resumes do not need dishwashing to be considered clean.  Michael Allegretti, for example, a former campaign aide of Michael Bloomberg, could be one of those individuals. Nonetheless, McMahon now holds a seat on both the Foreign Affairs and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committees, which could mean ousting him could be extremely challenging.