As President Barack Obama’s opponents pile on in the aftermath of multiple recent controversies–notably his reaction to the Benghazi attacks, revelations that the Internal Revenue Service focused on conservative-aligned nonprofits and the Justice Department’s unprecedented snooping on press communications–one local congressman wants it to be known that he is also not pleased.
To wit, Republican Rep. Michael Grimm, who represents Staten Island and southern Brooklyn, released a lengthy statement this afternoon blasting Mr. Obama for “bringing Chicago-style politics to the White House.” This style of underhanded rule, Mr. Grimm said, has resulted in a presidency that is “the most secretive, deceptive, and divisive we’ve seen in modern times.”
Last year, Mark Murphy ran a sharply negative campaign against Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm that focused on an ongoing federal investigation into the incumbent’s 2010 fundraising efforts. The drumbeat was relentless; Mr. Murphy held regular press conferences about the investigation, worked it into his everyday messaging and even sent out direct mail with a faux mugshot of Mr. Grimm’s face on it. Despite these intense attacks, Mr. Murphy went on to lose 46 percent to 53 percent to the Republican Mr. Grimm in a swing district narrowly carried by President Barack Obama.
Councilman Domenic Recchia, who is planning to take on Mr. Grimm next year, is charting a different course for his campaign.
“Listen, I don’t get involved with people’s private lives,” Mr. Recchia told us as we sat down outside his government office earlier today. “This is not about Michael Grimm and his personal life, what he might have done or might not have done. I don’t know. This is about myself running for Congress to support the people of Staten Island and southern Brooklyn so I can really help them.”
Earlier today, Pope Benedict XVI surprisingly announced his abidcation–the first time a Pope has stepped down since 1415–setting the stage for the dramatic process of electing a new Vatican leader. And, although Congressman Michael Grimm doesn’t get a vote in that select process, the Staten Island lawmaker wants everyone to know he’s backing New York’s own Cardinal Timothy Dolan for the holy vocation.
“It is too early to determine the full extent of Pope Benedict’s legacy; however, New Yorkers will never forget the gift he gave us with the elevation of Cardinal Dolan,” Mr. Grimm announced in a statement. “Cardinal Dolan has lifted the spirits of Catholics and non-Catholics throughout New York and the world, and renewed the faith of many. If it were up to me to pick the next pope, Cardinal Dolan would have my vote!”
Governor Andrew Cuomo spent the day in Washington yesterday lobbying for the approximately $40 billion in federal aid he is asking for to help the state recover from Hurricane Sandy. Politicker spoke with sources familiar with the governor’s schedule to get details on how he spent his time and who he met with on his first trip to Washington since taking office.
“The governor hit the trifecta; the White House, the Majority Leader and the speaker,” an administration official said.
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.
Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm isn’t letting Hurricane Sandy slow him down.
“It’s a little crazy, I’ve been driving from one side of the island to another,” he told us over the telephone earlier tonight. “A 93 year-old woman who has breathing issues, she can’t lie flat in the shelter and they don’t have beds that incline. So they have them in the other shelter at the south part of the island, at Tottenville High School. And every which way I’ve been going, the streets have been down because of flooding or because of trees down. I’m driving, I’m just about there so I can bring back this cot.”
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.”
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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.”