Republican mayoral hopeful John Catsimatidis released a TV ad Thursday that includes a testimonial from former Rep. Vito Fossella of Staten Island, who cut short his congressional career after a scandal over an extramarital affair.
The spot debuted on the same day Catsimatidis was quoted in The Washington Post as saying he would run an ad alluding to the sexting scandal that drove former Rep. Anthony Weiner from Congress in 2011 if they became the GOP and Democratic nominees.
Catsimatidis said he would depict Weiner with his finger on a keyboard -- an idea he said was inspired by the famous 1964 "Daisy" TV ad in which President Lyndon Johnson stoked fears that opponent Barry Goldwater would be a reckless finger on the nuclear button.
Catsimatidis spokesman Rob Ryan said there was no dissonance between the comments and the Fossella ad.
"Vito Fossella was always a great congressman for Staten Island who sincerely cared about his district and the people of New York, and we hold him in the highest regard," Ryan said. The campaign planned a six-figure advertising time buy, he said.
The ad features on- and off-camera comments from eight people touting the billionaire Catsimatidis' virtues. Fossella, near a Staten Island Ferry, says Catsimatidis "grew up poor." Also appearing are former Gov. George Pataki, a retired cop, a veteran and a teacher.
Fossella, a Republican, chose not to seek re-election after a 2008 drunken-driving arrest exposed an extramarital affair with a woman in Virginia and their child. Fossella had a wife and three children in Staten Island.
Neither Fossella nor Weiner's campaign responded to calls for comment.
Political consultant Jerry Skurnik said voters are unlikely to draw a connection between the Fossella and Weiner situations. If anything, Skurnik said, Fossella's endorsement could help Catsimatidis with Staten Island voters, where Fossella remains a popular figure.