Tags: GOP | Looks | Dan | Frisa | Topple | 'Hillary | Clone'

GOP Looks to Dan Frisa to Topple 'Hillary Clone' McCarthy

Tuesday, 21 May 2002 12:00 AM

"What voters in my district by and large don't know is that when they sent Rep. McCarthy to Washington six years ago, she turned into a Hillary Clinton clone,"

Party strategists think the timing may be right for Frisa's brand of commonsense conservatism.

"We're excited that Dan Frisa is going to get in this race," said Steve Schmidt, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, in an interview with Roll Call earlier this month. "Anytime that you have a former member of Congress running, you have the ability to capture a seat."

"This puts one more of [the Democratic Party's] incumbents on the endangered list," he added.

Sounding confident, Frisa told the Capitol Hill newspaper, "We've embarked on a really good, solid planning phase, and we're now ready to move into the electoral phase."

Though he concedes he enters the race as an underdog, Frisa's campaign is better organized than earlier efforts, and his war chest is in good shape. In political cash on hand, he and McCarthy are neck and neck, with each reporting $502,000 raised so far.

"We've had a history of coming back from defeats and being able to appeal to voters in a different way successfully," Frisa told Roll Call. "So the underdog status is one that is not a bad thing for me."

Swept into Congress in 1994 as part of the "Republican Revolution" landslide, Frisa lost his 4th District seat to McCarthy on a fluke two years later, when the then-Long Island housewife rode the sympathy factor generated by her husband's tragic death in 1993's Long Island Railroad massacre to victory.

It also didn't help Frisa that the top of the 1996 GOP ticket, Bob Dole, garnered just 34 percent of the Long Island vote that year.

But now McCarthy will have to run on her own track record, and it's a record, he says, that shows a distinct "lack of leadership."

"People overwhelmingly seem to feel there's been a vacuum, especially after the terrorist attacks of last September," Frisa told NewsMax.

"They want more aggressive national defense and homeland security, greatly reduced dependence on foreign oil, as well as more income tax relief to stimulate the economy.

"With Congresswoman McCarthy, there's been a lack of leadership" on all those issues, the GOP challenger contended.

Frisa may have more going for him than just McCarthy's lackluster record. The political terrain has shifted dramatically in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, for instance, carried the district by a healthy margin two years ago.

Now Republican Gov. George Pataki, who'll be running for re-election on the same ticket as Frisa, has an 80 percent approval rating with the voters McCarthy needs to keep.

Likewise, voters in the 4th District who deserted President Bush in droves two years ago now give him similarly sky-high approval ratings.

Could the shifting political winds blow Rep. McCarthy off her congressional perch?

"I wouldn't be running if there wasn't a reasonable shot at victory," Frisa said, noting that 4th district voters "may be ready for a change."

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What voters in my district by and large don't know is that when they sent Rep. McCarthy to Washington six years ago, she turned into a Hillary Clinton clone, Party strategists think the timing may be right for Frisa's brand of commonsense conservatism. We're...
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2002-00-21
Tuesday, 21 May 2002 12:00 AM
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