Steve Harrison

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Stephen Harrison is a Democratic candidate for the 13th Congressional District of New York.

Stephen "Steve" Harrison was a Democratic candidate in the 2008 congressional elections for the 13th Congressional District (map) of New York. He was seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.). He lost in primary elections which took place on September 9, 2008. [1] [2]

Record, positions and controversies

from Harrison website -

As our Congressman, Steve will vote to end the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy that have sent our economy into a downward spiral. He will vote to end the war in Iraq immediately and will introduce measures to grow the economy through investment in renewable and sustainable energy sources. Steve is a strong supporter of reproductive rights and gun control initiatives. Further, Steve is the ONLY candidate for this seat who:

  • Fully supports marriage equality,
  • Has voiced support for single payer health care,
  • Opposes the provisions of the 2001 Patriot Act,
  • Supports beginning the safe withdrawal of our troops from Iraq immediately, and
  • Opposes permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq.

Foreign policy

National security

Steve Harrison's approach to national security is guided by three principles:

  • America must have the strongest military capability and be prepared to secure America both from rogue sovereign states and stateless terrorists in accordance with the following principles:
  • We must have secure borders and effective homeland security.
  • We must have an energy policy that eliminates American dependence on both foreign and domestic oil within a decade.[1]

Military forces

  • Our military forces must be of sufficient size and adequately equipped to accomplish our objectives.
  • The Bush administration's irresponsible fiscal policy, supported by Congressman Fossella, has left us with huge debt and no funds to increase America's defense forces to the size needed for multiple-theater combat.
  • Despite 9/11 and two interventions that stretch our military resources too thin, we are unable to expand the size of our forces, impeding us from intervening against the Darfur genocide and elsewhere.
  • Says Harrison, "Despite their claim to be strong on national defense, Vito Fossella and the Republicans continue to pursue policies that dramatically and demonstrably weaken us in the eyes of the world. They talk a good game but they do not produce when it counts." [2]


Terrorists groups such as al Qaeda threaten America. We must pursue the war on terrorism, no matter where it leads us, no matter the cost. We can only do this by understanding our enemies as well as we know ourselves. "While we hunt down Osama bin Laden", says Harrison, "We must also learn what makes terrorist groups tick so that we can prevent future attacks before they occur." This can be accomplished without trampling on the constitution or the Geneva Convention.


Steve Harrison opposes the war in Iraq and calls for the immediate withdrawal of forces, consistent with our troops' safety.

Steve believes, regardless of any immediate causes, that America’s need for oil was the driving force behind the invasion of Iraq. This is why energy independence must be a key component of foreign policy as well as domestic policy.

Steve continues, "This war represents the Bush administrations policy of national offense unrelated to a policy of national defense. The purpose of a strong national defense is to avoid wars, not start them." [3]


Steve Harrison, like most Americans, favored US action in Afghanistan because the Taliban abetted and harbored terrorists who attacked America. The objectives were clear: catch bin Laden and depose the Taliban. Unlike Iraq, the war in Afghanistan enjoyed considerable international support.

He adds, "We failed to catch bin Laden and the Taliban is resurging because our troop strength and other resources were prematurely diverted to Iraq." [4]

Sudan and Darfur

The Darfur region of Sudan constitutes as genocide. Steve Harrison believes that the United States is a morally obligated to do everything possible to end the unspeakable violence. Our government can do more to ensure the protection of civilians and a smoother transition to the UN-African Union peacekeeping operation.

"It's the right thing to do," says Harrison. "It's a start, but we need to do much more. Bush said these atrocities wouldn't happen under his watch. But they have." [5]

Domestic policies

The economy

President Clinton left office with a 3 trillion dollar surplus squandered by Bush and the Republican congress. Their unconscionable fiscal policy of tax cuts for the rich, transformed the surplus into a 6 trillion dollar deficit, $30,000 in debt for every American man, women and child, sticking the poor, working families and our children with the bill.

If this policy continues, says Steve Harrison, "Our children will unfairly be paying for our excesses long after we are gone."

Steve Harrison wants to repeal the Bush era tax cuts for the rich and require corporations to assume their fair share of the tax burden. Congressman Fossella supported the Republican cuts and strongly supports his party's borrow and spend philosophy that has put the Iraq war tab on the national credit card.

"The truth," says Steve, "is that Congressman Fossella has repeatedly voted to conduct the war in Iraq with the money and lives of the sons and daughters of working class and poor families, without asking an equivalent sacrifice from the rich. We have a right to expect the rich and the corporations to stand up for this nation as patriots at this time and to participate in the defense of this nation in the war on terror. But the Bush administration has never asked for that sacrifice."

Steve Harrison believes in the oldest rule of fiscal prudence -- pay as you go.[6]

Energy and the environment

Steve Harrison wants our country to approach our energy problems with the same vigor and national resolve as we did putting a man on the moon. In a decade we should be free from foreign and domestic fossil fuel dependence.

Wind farms are among the alternative energy sources Steve Harrison supports. Steve says, "Windmills are pollution free, once erected, and what little visual disturbance they cause is infinitely preferable to the catastrophic potential of burning fossil fuels or atomic fission."

Republican solutions such as drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) are inadequate and even dangerous. ANWR drilling would not have an immediate impact on our current supply and would satisfy only a minor portion of our future needs, while endangering wildlife and encouraging further oil reliance.

"Virtually all major problems today, Iraq, global warming, melting of the polar ice caps and many others can be traced to one thing - oil," explains Steve. "As the world's ability to produce oil slips below ever increasing demand, particularly with the industrialization of China and India, within the foreseeable future, the price of oil will skyrocket well beyond the ability of America's working families to pay." [7]

Gun control

Steve Harrison believes that gun control saves lives and does not infringe on second amendment rights. He supports a mandatory 72 hour gun purchase waiting period. He supports background checks for both gun and ammunition purchases. He supports ending loopholes that allowed the Northern Illinois and Virginia Tech killers to purchase guns and bullets. The mentally unstable should never be allowed to purchase weapons.

He supports reinstating the assault weapons ban and eliminating all grandfather clauses in that ban. Steve supports banning handguns in NYC. [8]


Every year, nearly 18,000 people die unnecessarily as a direct result of their lack of health insurance. There are over 46 million uninsured people living in America, the majority of which are working Americans. Of those with health insurance, millions maintain inadequate, overly expensive coverage and face the peril of denials of claims or termi¬nation of benefits if a family member becomes seriously ill--one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in the U.S.

This is why Steve Harrison is an advocate for single-payer universal medical coverage for all Americans - a plan that would not only save more than $350 billion per year, but would save lives. The savings would create enough new money to provide guaranteed comprehensive health care for all. This system would insure portable and uniform benefits regardless of income. With no deductibles or co-pays, this plan would encourage preventive care and restore a doctor and patient controlled health care system affording choice of providers and fair, publicly negotiated payment for both treatment and medication.[9]

Labor, trade and immigration

Steve Harrison supports increasing the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation or another comparable benchmark. However, even with indexing, very few Americans can support themselves and their families on the minimum wage. This is why Steve will make creating jobs that pay a livable wage a top priority.

His plan requires that all energy related products be made in the USA, not just to create and protect American jobs, but as a matter of national security. Steve supports putting Americans back to work in good paying jobs by investing in rebuilding infrastructure

On the issue of immigration, Steve Harrison supports developing a path to citizenship for the estimated 15 million illegal workers already contributing to the economy. He is also calling for better border security. "On a practical level, we will never send back the fifteen million illegal workers who are already here, working and contributing to our economy," says Harrison. "The most humane, fiscally sound and all-around best solution is to assimilate them into the family of America through some path to citizenship and to get serious about border security now."

Steve Harrison is against outsourcing manufacturing and white-collar jobs to Mexico, China and India. He opposes free trade agreements that do not include stringent labor laws and policies. "If these provisions are lacking, we are not only manufacturing our products through the exploitation of foreign workers, but also at the expense of American jobs," says Harrison.

Steve Harrison is a strong supporter of the fundamental right of employees to organize and form a union.[10]

Social security

Social Security is solvent through 2042 and needs only minor adjustments to continue remaining in the black. Steve Harrison opposes privatization and income indexes as solutions to revenue shortfalls. To prevent future insolvency, Steve advocates ending the regressive cap on income that is subject to the payroll tax, ($102,000 in 2008). [11]


Current unemployment statistics severely underestimate the number of people not gainfully employed. Yet Republicans shamefully cite these statistics to bolster their claims of a robust economy even though experts agree that we are headed for a recession. The official unemployment statistics cited by the media, also known as U-3, only count a portion of the people who are looking for work and fail to include many Americans, including many with disabilities. Other statistical metrics, in particular U-6, are more comprehensive and inclusive. In fact, the U6 numbers are often double the U3. This means there are millions more people suffering economic hardships than are being acknowledged.

To remedy this, Steve Harrison favors using some of the revenue generated by the repeal of the Bush tax cuts to create jobs from public and private sources. Further, Steve believes in providing education and training for those out of work and in increasing the safety net available to those who cannot find work.

Steve Harrison has a vision for America. He believes we can get American's working again by reestablishing America's world economic leadership by investing in alternative energy sources and other 21st Century technology. In addition to the creation of these "green-collar jobs," he also believes in developing public policy that will discourage the outsourcing of blue and white-collar jobs overseas.

Steve supports putting Americans back to work in good paying jobs by investing in rebuilding infrastructure.[12]

Local policies


Steve Harrison opposes inappropriate development on both sides of the Verrazano Bridge and has a track record of preventing such overdevelopment. As chair of both Community Board 10 and its Zoning and Land Use Committee, Steve spearheaded Brooklyn's largest re-zoning effort ever, preventing large commercial overdevelopment in residential areas.

Steve Harrison supports vigorous enforcement of all zoning rules in Staten Island and Brooklyn to prevent overdevelopment that is overcrowding our schools, congesting our highways and diminishing our standard of living.

He wants a moratorium on the placement of cell towers and antennae in close proximity to schools or residential centers, pending a comprehensive federal study of the effects of these devices on populated areas. If warranted by the study, he will push for legislation restricting the placement of telecommunications equipment.[13]

Traffic and transportation

Steve Harrison has developed an innovative plan to eliminate the Verrazano toll for 13th district residents on both sides of the bridge. He also favors eliminating toll booths and replacing them with state of the art boothless scanning. According to census data, Staten Islanders have the longest average commute in the country. Staten Island is the only borough without round the clock, seven days a week service to and from midtown.

To help remedy the commuting nightmare, Steve Harrison advocates for expanded express bus service to Manhattan from all segments of Staten Island and increased ferry service frequency. He also favors developing a North Shore train link to the ferry and creating affordable high speed ferry service convenient for all Island Commuters.

Steve strongly supports replacing the Gowanus expressway with a tunnel, abating traffic for Staten Island and Brooklyn Residents. Steve Harrison opposed New York City’s Congestion Pricing Plan, saying, "I am unwilling to watch my fellow citizens in Staten Island and Brooklyn forced into commuting in inadequate and dangerously overcrowded subways, buses and ferries. The way to spur transit use is though a carrot, not a stick. If mass transit is improved, people will switch from driving to public transportation. The shift will occur naturally."[14]


Steve Harrison believes that the "No Child Left Behind" policy does not fulfill its intended mission since it is underfunded. He fully supports the decision in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case that forces Albany to obey court mandates giving New York City schools an equitable share of tax revenue.[15]

Health and the environment

  • Steve Harrison will fight for Staten Island to finally get a City Hospital and for more Southwest Brooklyn hospital services.
  • Steve Harrison will fight to prevent the construction of the Southwestern Brooklyn Waste Transfer Station at Gravesend Bay.[16]

Money in politics

2008 Campaign – Stephen Harrison – NY-13

Information available as of 12/31/2007:

  • Raised: $106,821
  • Spent: $30,203
  • Cash on hand: $83,116
  • Last Report: 12/31/2007

Source of Funds:

  • PACs: $1,100 (1% of total)
  • Individuals: $104,357 (98% of total)
  • Candidate: $0 (0% of total)
  • Other: $1,364 (1% of total)

Detailed Federal Election Commission campaign finance reporting -


More background data

from Wikipedia profile -

Stephen A. Harrison (born 1949 in Brooklyn, New York) is a Bay Ridge area attorney, and a candidate for the Democratic nomination for New York's 13th congressional district.

Parochial school educated, Harrison graduated from Marist College and Brooklyn Law School. Harrison worked at the Manhattan Law firm of Esterman & Esterman after law school before starting his private practice in 1986. He's married to the former Alice McKeon. They have two children, New York City teacher Michelle and Jeff, a sales representative.

Prior to running for Congress, Harrison was best known for being Brooklyn Community Board 10's chair from 2000-2003 and running for City Council in a 2003 special election. He also founded the SIBRO (Staten Island Brooklyn) Civic Association with Staten Island educator Mark Zink. SIBRO is charged with tackling problems that people living in Staten Island and Brooklyn experience together. 2006 candidacy

Harrison was the 2006 Democratic candidate for the 13th congressional district, losing to Republican incumbent Vito Fossella only 6.8% short of victory in a traditional Republican stronghold. The district includes the entire borough of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn.

Steve Harrison achieved the highest percentage of the vote (43.3) of any Democratic candidate under the district's current configuration, which was constructed in the early 90s. He accomplished this despite being out-raised 13 to 1. Fossella actually spent $1.9 million on his campaign, going $200,000 in debt.

Harrison, who was endorsed by the New York Times and Esquire Magazine, received New York and national media attention including being featured frequently in the New York Times and the New York Daily News and other local print media, New York Television News, MSNBC and Air America Radio. As a campaign tactic, Harrison ran the New York City Marathon, which begins in Staten Island, with the race's first few miles being run in the Brooklyn portion of the district. Harrison's marathon running resulted in additional publicity for the candidate with media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and Runners' World covering his running the marathon while running for office. Harrison finished the race in 4:47.38.

2008 candidacy

Harrison has announced that he will challenge Fossella again in 2008. Part of the reason why Harrison raised relatively little money in 2006 was the DCCC's lack of interest in the race. This may be different in 2008, as the DCCC, while not automatically endorsing another Harrison run, gives him credit for coming as close as he did in 2006 without local machine or national party support. Harrison received an endorsement from the Progressive Democrats of America on February 28, 2008.

Time for a Change

Our current Congressperson in NY-13, Vito Fossella, poorly represents our district. As NYC's only House Republican, Fossella votes with Bush and against our interests 90 percent of the time. He supports Bush's fiscal policy that has cut critical middle class programs, while bankrupting this country. And he wants to indefinitely continue the failed war in Iraq, which costs us billions of dollars and countless American lives. It's time to change that. I look forward to hearing your concerns and opinions during the upcoming weeks and months. Your voice will be heard once I'm in Washington. [17]

Meet Steve Harrison

Steve grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, amidst the rubble of the homes destroyed by Robert Moses to make way for the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. "That experience," says Steve, "shaped my life-long commitment to community preservation and forged an emotional connection to Staten Island where so many of my displaced friends moved." Now, as a son, a husband a father, a brother, a lawyer and a small business owner, he understands the challenges faced by people on both sides of the bridge. Steve and his wife of 34 years - and both of their children - live in Bay Ridge. His mother and sister live on the Island.[18]

For decades, Steve has been active in local governmental, educational, political and civic organizations. As Chair of Community Board 10, he spearheaded many initiatives including the largest rezoning in Brooklyn's history.[19]

Steve is an avid runner. Two days before Election Day 2006, he ran his 5th marathon, touching both Staten Island and Brooklyn.[20]

"Before I knew I was running for Congress I promised my daughter I would run the New York City Marathon with her," said Steve. He continued, "I keep my promises."[21]

Why Steve will win...

As a candidate for Congress in 2006, Steve fought hard to remove New York City’s last conservative, pro-war, anti-choice Republican from office and came closer than any other Democrat in the history of the district. Steve entered the '06 Congressional race because, like so many people, he was frustrated by NY 13th Congressional District incumbent Vito Fossella's blind support for George Bush, and his lack of respect for our Constitution. The district includes Staten Island and southwest Brooklyn. It is the only NYC Congressional seat held by a Republican.[22]

Volunteers from all over the City rallied behind Steve's message of hope. Defying the pundits, Steve amassed 43.2% of the vote - a Democratic record - despite being outspent 13 to 1. In the process, he bankrupted Fossella's $1.5M war chest.[23]

With the 2% boost that traditionally is associated with the Democrat's new "Line-A" ballot position, Steve heads into the '08 election needing to close a gap of less than five points TO WIN.[24]

The divided nature of the district means that any challenger must run this race at least twice to build the cross-bridge name recognition and credibility to win.[25]

Building on the name recognition and credibility he gained in 2006, with your support, Steve is well positioned to win in 2008.[26]

2008 elections

Steve Harrison was seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.) in the 2008 congressional elections.[3][4][5][6] He lost in primary elections which took place on September 9, 2008. [1] [2]

The general election for Congress will be held on Tuesday 4 November 2008. Polling hours are 6:00a EST to 9:00p EST.


Committees and affiliations


Mr. Harrison will be assigned committees if and when he is elected to Congress.

Affiliations and endorsements

Endorsement for Harrison (May 2008) By Tom Wrobleski Staten Island Advance

Democratic congressional hopeful Steve Harrison has picked up the support of the Democratic Advancement PAC (DAPAC), a group that looks to elect "progressive" Democrats to office. ...

Harrison is battling Brooklyn City Councilman Domenic Recchia in a Democratic primary. The winner will face GOP Rep. Vito Fossella in the fall. ...

DAPAC says it provides tactical and strategic support for endorsed candidates, including fund-raising and GOTV expertise. DAPAC claims to have generated over 250,000 phone calls on behalf of the candidates they support. [27]

Bay Ridge American Heritage Democratic Organization endorses Steve Harrison with 100% of the vote

Steve Harrison showed he has strong support on both sides of the bridge when Bay Ridge's the American Heritage Democratic Organization (AHDO) nearly unanimously endorsed him over potential primary opponent Coney Island Councilman Domenic Recchia on March 10. One hundred percent of those voting to endorse a candidate voted for Steve, with a handful of members voting for "no endorsement". AHDO has consistently obtained more petitions signatures for democratic candidates than any other club in Brooklyn. "This endorsement is testimony to Steve's hard work," said AHDO President Scott Klein. Phyllis Perfetto founded the American Heritage club in November 1996 with her husband 60th AD district leader Ralph Perfetto. AHDO's membership is diverse. Prominent members include Klein who is a past president of the Lambda Independent Democrats, a LGBT political group and Maria Doti, an active member of the Iraqi and Afghanistan Veterans Association.

Steve wins national endorsement

On February 28th, The Progressive Democrats of America unanimously voted to endorse Steve Harrison. Steve stated that he is "honored to be endorsed by and is extremely impressed with PDA." PDA is a national grassroots PAC operating inside the Democratic Party, and outside in movements for peace and justice. The organization played a key role in the stunning electoral victory of November 2006.

The Labor legend and political icon, Frank Barbaro, who endorsed Steve in December, sent a video message to attendees of the February 27th fundraiser. The former Assemblyman and Judge from Gravesend Brooklyn enthusiastically states why he is supporting Steve. Watch HERE. Another Icon endorsed Steve as well. Legendary feminist and activist, Gloria Steinem agreed to act as Honorary Host of the February 27th fundraiser and has endorsed Steve's candidacy.

Other Endorsements

Staten Island's oldest Democratic Club, the Democratic Organization of the County of Richmond endorsed Steve with close to 90 percent of the vote on February 25th.

    • The local chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America unanimously endorsed Steve Harrison on February 24.
    • The equally progressive Staten Island Democratic Association (SIDA) recently endorsed Harrison 42-6 over the competition for the Democratic nomination.
    • 60th AD district leader Ralph Perfetto
    • Gary Lane, chairman of Local 3, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

The Democratic Organization of Richmond County, a club populated by many union members, has a reputation of being a more moderate to conservative group, while the endorsements of SIDA and PDA represent more progressive voices and the voices of Brooklyn are being clearly heard by the AHDO endorsement. Being endorsed by Democrats from both wings of the party and both sides of the bridge indicates the depth of Harrison's support and the ability to unite voters of all political persuasions.

Also, see the NY Times' endorsement in 2006: 13th Congressional District (Staten Island and Southern Brooklyn). Mr. Fossella, the only Republican in the city's Congressional delegation, possesses a well-known name on Staten Island. But his 10 years in Congress have defined him as anything but the independent fighter for constituents that he claims to be in this campaign. He has been a real water-carrier for the Bush administration and the Republican leadership, staunchly backing the war in Iraq while at the same time denying health benefits to National Guard and Reserve members who make up much of the American force there.

[Rep. Fossella] has been unsympathetic to environmental concerns and has opposed a woman's right to choose. He does his constituents no favors by his support for privatizing Social Security. He has voted to protect gun makers and sellers. While Mr. Fossella has lately sought funding to deal with health problems related to the attacks of Sept. 11, he has largely been missing on important local issues. His Democratic colleague, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who represents the Sixth District, has often been left to advocate Staten Island's many transportation needs, including the North Shore rail. …

[Fossella] has also gone negative in a nasty way against his underfinanced Democratic opponent, Stephen Harrison. Voters should beware of any politician who tries to scare them, as Mr. Fossella has done, by pasting his opponent's photo alongside Osama bin Laden's. …

As chair of Community Board 10 in Brooklyn, he demonstrated leadership as he oversaw one of the city's largest efforts to contain overdevelopment through rezoning. He has a good command of the issues, and a feel for the concerns of the district. Mr. Harrison surprised many with his passion and keen intelligence in a series of debates with Mr. Fossella. The distinctions could not be clearer. We endorse Mr. Harrison for Congress.

--The New York Times, endorsing Steve Harrison in 2006.


Campaign office:
544 Bay Ridge Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11209

NY C.D.-13 Map

Articles and resources

See also

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External resources

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