ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Now a story about the 13th to the second power - the second powers, actually. We're talking about the 13th Congressional District of New York. It's an unusual district. Most of it is Staten Island, New York City's least urban, least populist and only Republican borough. It's represented in Congress by Vito Fossella, but not for long. Fossella is the only New York City Republican in the House. And after a drunk-driving arrest turned up the fact that he had fathered a child out of wedlock, he decided to retire.
The Staten Island Democrats are backing a city councilman, Michael McMahon, to run for the seat. The Republican organization is backing a retired Wall Street executive named Francis H. Powers, or Frank Powers. He faces a primary challenge from Dr. Jamshad Wyne. But of greater interest is the challenge that he could face from the Libertarian Party from a 47-year-old carpenter and musician who is seeking that nomination; he is named Francis M. Powers, or Fran Powers. Francis H. Powers versus Francis M. Powers - not entirely a coincidence because Francis M. is the son of Francis H.
Fran Powers, why are you running against your father?
Mr. FRANCIS M. POWERS (Congressional Candidate): Well, there's a very simple answer. That is as I am not running against my father. I'm running for the, hopefully, the Libertarian, you know, nomination. And if I secure the Libertarian nomination I'll be running for the Congressional seat on Staten Island. I'll be running against Mr. McMahon and Mr. Powers and anybody else who's running.
SIEGEL: Have you talked about this with the elder Mr. Powers, by the way?
Mr. POWERS: No, I have not.
SIEGEL: Haven't. This is a year when a lot of Republican seats have been falling in special elections to Democrats. Could be close. This is the lone Republican seat within New York City. Is it possible that whatever confusion might be generated by two people with the same names could help tip the seat toward the Democrats?
Mr. POWERS: If people have trouble discerning between the Republican Party line and the Libertarian Party line, then perhaps they shouldn't be voting. You know, they should know what they're voting for.
SIEGEL: And the Libertarian - you are a committed Libertarian?
Mr. POWERS: I am a committed Libertarian. Yes.
SIEGEL: I heard, though, that if you don't get the Libertarian nomination - I read this - you could run as an Anarchist.
Mr. POWERS: I, you know, I have explored that possibility, and yes, I might run under the Anarchist Party. The only problem with that is to get to the ballot and get moving with everything, it's better, of course, to have a party.
SIEGEL: It's hard to imagine to a less organized party than the Anarchist Party though.
Mr. POWERS: Well, the thing is, there is no Anarchist Party, obviously. I mean, there could be maybe an Anarchy Party, but an Anarchist Party is one person.
SIEGEL: Now, I'll give you one more time to try to refuse this, because it seems inevitable that if you, Fran Powers, Francis Powers, are running against - for the same Congressional seat that your father Francis Powers is running for, people naturally assume there's some domestic angle here, some issue within the family that's being worked out.
Mr. POWERS: Well, anybody who thinks this is personal is way off base. The reason I'm in the race is I have name recognition that I normally would not have. If I was just Joe Blow on the street, I wouldn't have the cache that I have now. And I'm not running against Frank Powers, my father. I'm running against Frank Powers, the Republican candidate, plus Mr. McMahon, the Democratic candidate, and anybody else who comes down the line.
SIEGEL: The distinction that you're making, the issue of name recognition is not that you, Fran Powers, are running for the same seat that your father, Francis Powers, is running for but rather that somebody else named Francis Powers is running for.
Mr. POWERS: That's the way I would look at it, you know. I mean at Christmas time and, you know, Father's Day time, I'm his son, but when we're running for Congress, I'm not his son.
SIEGEL: Well, Francis M. Powers, thank you very much for clarifying that for us.
Mr. POWERS: Thank you very much, Robert.
SIEGEL: Francis M. Powers is seeking the Libertarian nomination for the Congressional seat from Staten Island, New York.
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