Staten Island is the only reliably Republican borough of New York City. So it’s understandable that Democrats seeking office there would want to get a little creative.
New York allows fusion, a system in which a candidate’s name can appear on multiple lines of the ballot and with multiple party designations. Thus was born the Staten Island 1st Party, a ballot label that was to be shared by several Democrats running for office this November.
Businessman Mark Murphy won the Democratic nomination for borough president and, facing a decidedly uphill battle, also created the Staten Island 1st ballot line to help expand his appeal.
“I wanted to take essentially the negative national politics out of government and I wanted to talk about how to unify Staten Island,” Murphy told NY1 earlier this year. “A speed camera doesn’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican.”
It was an interesting experiment, but results suggest that it has flopped in the end. Voters were unable to look past the Republican and Democratic ballot lines in meaningful numbers.
Nearly complete numbers show Republican Vito Fossella winning that borough president contest with nearly 62% of the vote, followed by Murphy on the Democratic line with 29%. In third place with 7.65% was Conservative Party nominee Leticia M. Remauro, while a paltry 1.37% of voters went with Murphy on the “Staten Island 1st” line.
Some Democrats suggested that the Staten Island First slogan was a “racist” appeal to Donald Trump supporters, echoing the former President’s America First language. Civil Court candidate Maria Novak who was also planning to use the line, did not ultimately qualify as a Staten Island 1st candidate.
The only other person to appear as a Staten Island 1st candidate was Sal Albanese, an attorney and former school teacher who served as a member of the NYC council during the 80s and 90s. He has run several campaigns for mayor, most recently in 2017 when he captured 15% of the vote in the Democratic primary (good for a distant second place to incumbent Bill de Blasio) and then went on to finish third in the general election with 2.1% of the vote as the Reform Party nominee.
Albanese was attempting a return to the city council, running in the 50th district where he received 28.6% as a Democrat and an additional 3.1% as the Staten Island 1st nominee. David M. Carr was the victor with 61% and a Conservative Party candidate captured the remaining 7%.