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From 1953 through 1996, New York’s Fourth Congressional District, in suburban Nassau County on Long Island, was a Republican stronghold. However, in 1992 Bill Clinton carried the district in the Presidential race in a Democratic breakthrough. In 1994 Dan Frisa, a conservative Republican, defeated one-term moderate Republican David Levy in a primary challenge, but then held the seat with just 50.2% of the vote in the general election, despite the strong Republican tide that year. Frisa was in turn defeated in 1996 by Democrat Carolyn McCarthy, a former Republicans and an ardent gun control activist who rose to public prominance after the death of her husband in the 1993 Long Island Railroad shooting. McCarthy held off a tough challenge in 1998 and since then has won without great difficulty. She won with 65 percent of the vote in 2006 and 62 percent in the strong Democratic year of 2008. The district voted for Obama, 58-41 in 2008.
This might not look like fertile ground for a Republican takeover in 2010, but times may be a-changing. Republican Ed Mangano appears to have narrowly defeated a two-term incumbent Democrat in the County Executive race this month, with the recount expected to conclude on Monday. Had a spoiler Conservative Party candidate not claimed over 9000 votes, the race would not even be close. Republicans also won a majority on the County Legislature for the first time in a decade, and unseated the Democrat County Controller.
Against this background, Frank Scaturro, a young, energetic, across-the-board conservative with the pragmmatic, problem solving style of Virginia Governor-elect Bob McDonnell, is challenging McCarthy in the 4th Congressional District race in 2010. McCarthy’s last rating from the American Conservative Union was an 8. Her lifetime rating is 20. The NRA, not surprisingly, gives her an “F.” Her last rating from the left wing Americans for Democratic Action was a 20. McCarthy was first elected as a moderate former Republican, but has drifted steadily left in 13 years in Congress. In the current Congress she has voted the Democratic Party line more than 98 percent of the time, according to the Washington Post. She voted “no” on the Stupak Amendment to the House version of the Obama-Pelosi healthcare bill, and then voted yes on the final bill. This district is simply not that liberal, and McCarthy could be far more vulnerable than past election results suggest.
Scaturro was formerly Republican counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee, a position in which he helped shepherd through the supreme court nominations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Hofstra law school, teaching Constitutional law. Human Events’ John Gizzi recently profiled the race. You can donate or get involved here.
Scaturro can put this seat back in the red column, especially if, as now appears likely, 2010 is a strong Republican year. This is the type of race Republicans need to get involved in early, stretching the Democrats defense to the breaking point. Remember, early fundraising dollars matter most.