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.
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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.
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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.”
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.”
Congressman Michael Grimm’s Democratic opponent, Mark Murphy, is apparently enjoying the ongoing saga that’s unfolding after an incident of vandalism occurred at Mr. Grimm’s campaign office over the weekend. Mr. Grimm initially aggressively responded to the incident where windows were broken at his Staten Island headquarters by alleging acts of computer tampering and data theft also occurred and describing the situation as most likely “politically motivated.” After it turned out that the vandal in question was only a mere eighth grader, Mr. Grimm admitted it may have been a volunteer for his campaign who mistakenly caused his technological troubles rather than someone with more nefarious intentions.
Nathan Smith, a spokesman for Mr. Murphy, responded to Mr. Grimm’s admission he may have jumped to conclusions by releasing a strongly worded statement this evening criticizing the incumbent’s handling of the situation.
“We commend the young man for coming forward,” Mr. Smith said of the teenage perpetrator. “The wild accusations and apparently totally false conspiracy theories of the last 48 hours have made this bizarre situation a sad spectacle.”
On Sunday, GOP Congressman Michael Grimm announced that pieces of cement were thrown through the window of his campaign headquarters on Staten Island. In addition to the smashed windows, Mr. Grimm and his campaign claimed hard drives in the office were erased and described the crime as ”politically motivated” in a series of statements and an emergency press conference.
The campaign of Mr. Grimm’s Democratic opponent Mark Murphy flatly condemned the act, but multiple Democratic insiders who have been following the race expressed skepticism of Mr. Grimm’s story when offered the chance to give their private thoughts on the politically sensitive topic. For their part, Republicans we reached out to did not immediately leap at the opportunity to comment.
“The whole thing seems bizarre to a lot people,” one Democrat wrote to Politicker. “Why would someone sneak into a campaign HQ and erase stuff while tipping them off you were there. It doesn’t make any sense.”
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.
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.”
Democratic congressional hopeful Mark Murphy is releasing an internal poll this afternoon that his campaign says gives him a path to victory against incumbent Congressman Michael Grimm. The numbers give Mr. Grimm a 48 percent to 36 percent lead, which represents a decent amount of ground he needs to make up by Election Day.
“This is a very encouraging poll for Mark Murphy. Congressman Grimm starts below the 50 percent mark—a sign of weakness for an incumbent,” Jeffrey Plaut, whose firm Global Strategy Group conducted the poll, said in a statement. ”Short introductions to both candidates move the race to a tie. And the more voters hear about Grimm and the questionable company he keeps, the more they prefer Murphy.”
Democrat Mark Murphy is not interested in letting Congressman Michael Grimm’s controversies go away anytime soon. After holding a press conference earlier this week highlighting the immigration-related arrest of Ofer Biton, who reportedly helped Mr. Grimm raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, Mr. Murphy’s campaign is now robocalling homes in his district with exactly the same message.
“I am calling with an important message for Staten Island and Brooklyn voters about Congressman Michael Grimm’s latest scandals and bad decisions,” the robocall’s female voice narrates. “Last Friday Congressman Grimm’s biggest fund-raiser, Ofer Biton, was arrested by the FBI. This is just the latest close aide to Grimm to be caught in serious legal troubles.”