A number of key New York congressional seats were at stake election day last week. When all the votes were counted, though there were over a half-dozen competitive races only three districts changed partisan hands. One of those belonged to Hudson Valley Rep. Nan Hayworth, a freshman Republican who came in on the Tea Party wave two years ago and narrowly lost her seat this time around to Democratic attorney Sean Patrick Maloney. On Friday, Ms. Hayworth went on Richard French Live to look back on her unsuccessful election, as well as the broader national race.
“Look, Hurricane Sandy did have an effect on the public discourse,” she contended. “There are issues of momentum that affected races like mine. The President had a substantial percentage margin over Governor Romney and we had known if there were a really large margin for the president, above say 5 points, that that would be very hard for us to overcome structurally in the new district that I was running in.”
New York State started off as a key battleground in the Democrats’ battle to retake control of the U.S. House, especially after the courts intervened in the redistricting plan and shook up a lot of traditional boundaries. However, most of these races were focused in areas further Upstate and the suburbs, leaving the heavily Democratic New York City with just two congressional elections of note.
In Queens, Democratic Assemblywoman Grace Meng faced off against GOP Councilman Dan Halloran for a seat crafted from the district remnants of outgoing Congressmen Bob Turner and Gary Ackerman. Despite Mr. Halloran’s polling showing the race a tie, those numbers did not pan out and Ms. Meng is currently ahead by roughly 2-to-1, which matches how Democrats have historically performed within the area.
braving the storm
On Sunday afternoon, Assemblywoman Grace Meng’s congressional campaign held a “unity rally” with a plethora of local elected officials, including Senator Chuck Schumer, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and outgoing Congressman Gary Ackerman. But Hurricane Sandy’s gusts of wind were already bombarding the rally as the officials gathered, making life just a tad more difficult. Volunteers kept having campaign signs blown out of their hands, for example.
“Good afternoon everyone, thank you so much for coming out here today,” Ms. Meng said to begin her speech, standing in the plaza in front of the Queens Crossing Mall in Flushing. “Days ago, when we planned this rally, we really did think it was a good idea. And in light of the fact of the weather, we thought, ‘What better way than to make sure elected officials keep their speeches under 2 minutes than to hold it in the middle of a hurricane?’”
Last Friday night, all of the candidates for local office gathered for the Richmond County American Legion Political Forum. “The candidates were contacted by letter in August, and follow-up e-mails were sent in September and early October to each, asking for confirmation of attendance,” Ted Cohen, an organizer of the event, explained in an email. “Positive responses were received from almost every candidate. There was one notable exception.”
Mark Murphy, the Democratic candidate against freshman GOP Rep. Michael Grimm, did not attend. “I find it a bit disturbing that a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives would ignore an invitation from an important Veterans organization in his district,” Mr. Cohen continued in the letter, which can be found in full below.
a ferry for two
GOP Congressman Michael Grimm has faced a barrage of bad headlines since the start of this year, most recently an article in today’s New York Times with the word “mob ties” in the title. These headlines have been further amplified by his Democratic opponent, Mark Murphy, bombarding Mr. Grimm on the airwaves and implying the incumbent is a crook. Well, Mayor Rudy Giuliani–possibly buoyed by the boat the congressman is trying to name after him–has come to the rescue.
“Hi, I’m Rudy Giuliani,” the former mayor says directly to the camera in Mr. Grimm’s latest television ad. “Don’t be fooled by the shameful attacks in the media, Michael Grimm’s character and integrity are second to none. Michael Grimm is a great congressman and an outstanding representative for Staten Island and Brooklyn.”
staten island bout
The Hotel Trades Council, which has become one of the most influential unions in New York City politics thanks to their aggressive organizing efforts and willingness to back both Democrats and Republicans, dove into the five boroughs’ most competitive congressional race this afternoon by endorsing Democrat Mark Murphy over incumbent GOP Rep. Michael Grimm.
“We’re all in. This is a priority race for us,” Josh Gold, HTC’s political director, explained in a statement. “We plan to do everything we can to elect Mark. He is someone who will stand up for all working men and women. He will fight hard for policies and legislation that will improve the lives of our members and help rebuild the middle class.”
On Friday morning, Mark Murphy, the Democratic challenger to Rep. Michael Grimm, unleashed his first television ad aiming to draw attention to some of the controversies surrounding the incumbent. “Murphy TV Ad Focuses on Grimm’s Character Flaws” the subject line of Mr. Murphy’s press release read, for example. “With characters like these around him, we can’t help but wonder about Michael Grimm’s character,” the ad itself declared after ticking off a list of “questionable characters.”
While Mr. Grimm’s campaign lashed out at Mr. Murphy at the time, it seems they were already readying a positive ad to boost his character as well. To wit, “Michael Grimm: Our Voice in Washington” quietly popped up on Mr. Grimm’s YouTube channel on Friday, and this morning, his spokeswoman confirmed the ad has been airing in Staten Island and Brooklyn since last week.
GOP Congressman Michael Grimm has been dogged by multiple controversies, but none are more notable than a federal investigation that, according to a New York Times report, likely stems from whether he illegally obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions during his first electoral effort in 2010. Mr. Grimm has steadfastly maintained his innocence and he has never been charged with wrongdoing, but questions remain as to what evidence spurred the probe.
One theory advanced was from Mr. Grimm’s political mentor, and occasional campaign spokesman, Guy Molinari, who has repeatedly accused Senator Chuck Schumer of “calling up” Attorney General Eric Holder and pushing the Department of Justice to investigate the Staten Island congressman, possibly as a political tactic to stop Mr. Grimm from running statewide someday.
GOP Councilman Dan Halloran is an underdog congressional campaign in a staunchly Democratic district where his opponent has repeatedly attacked him for his support of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, but Mr. Halloran has no plans to slow down his advocacy in Mr. Paul’s political movement any time soon. To that end, he was among the supporters of Mr. Paul who gathered in Maine a couple weeks ago, and last night, he addressed a crowd that had gathered for Mr. Paul’s son, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, near Penn Station last night.
“Problem is, we ain’t getting Ron in the White House. … We have a choice: Do we keep what we have, or do we trade it in?” Mr. Halloran said to the enthusiastic crowd, making the case for Mitt Romney’s campaign. “We can’t afford to have four more years of Barack Hussein Obama. We can’t afford it. Our country can’t economically. Our people can’t afford it. If you think people are out of work today, when the real depression hits us, and there’s no leadership in the White House, there’s going to be nowhere to hide. This country will come to a grinding halt. The Constitution, you can just forget about it.”
Earlier this afternoon, freshman Congressman Michael Grimm opened up his New Dorp campaign headquarters and formally began his reelection efforts in one of New York City’s only competitive congressional districts. And standing before a packed crowd of a couple hundred supporters–including his adorable Yorkshire Terrier sporting campaign swag–the Republican incumbent was not short on grand rhetoric.
“I don’t know what to say right now, I am blown away. I’m overwhelmed, look at the turnout on a hot day like this, it was raining before,” Mr. Grimm began his speech, standing in front of what had once been a car dealership but was now his base of operations. “I can’t believe that I’m standing here today to talk about reelection. It seemed like yesterday, it seemed like last week that I was standing here speaking here to you as a completely unknown candidate. No one had heard of me, no one believed, except for you.”