Grimm wins re-election to congress
Indicted incumbent beats back challenge from Recchia
U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, whose political career looked dead in the water in the spring, pulled off a miracle comeback and defeated his challenger Domenic Recchia on Tuesday night.
Grimm, a Republican, took to the stage at a Staten Island Hall shortly before 11 p.m. to declare victory after the Associated Press projected him the winner.
With 71 percent of precincts reporting, Grimm had 55 percent of the vote to Recchia’s 43 percent.
The two men were running for the right to represent the 11th Congressional District, a district that covers the entire borough of Staten Island and includes parts of several neighborhoods in southwest Brooklyn such as Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bernsonhurst and Gravesend.
The Republican-Conservative incumbent, who was indicted on 20-counts of fraud, tax evasion, perjury and other charges by a federal grand jury in April, is scheduled to go on trial in February. But for one night at least, Grimm could bask in the glow of victory.
“You had my back when I needed it most. And I’ll never forget it,” Grimm told his jubilant supporters.
For Recchia, it was a bitter defeat in a race that had started out so promising for him.
“What I will do is thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Recchia told his supporters in his concession speech.
Recchia, a former councilmember from Brooklyn, spoke shortly after Grimm had declared victory.
In the early days of the race, Recchia, who had served as chairman of the powerful Finance Committee on the council, easily outpaced the embattled Grimm in fundraising. In addition, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which sensed trouble in the water for Grimm, circled the race and pumped nearly $5 million into Recchia’s campaign.
Grimm made reference to Recchia’s campaign war chest in his victory speech, charging that the DCCC was trying to “silence” voters in the district by turning the only Republican member of the New York Congressional delegation out of office.
“They could have spent $10 million. The people of Staten Island and Brooklyn will not be silenced,” Grimm said.
However, a series of missteps by the challenger, including stumbling over the definition of a trade agreement during an on-camera interview on NY1 and then bragging at a press conference that organizing a student exchange program in Japan gave him the necessary credentials to deal with important international issues, appeared to have hurt his chances.
Recchia was the target of Jon Stewart’s biting wit on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” last month.
In addition, Recchia’s decision to skip two key debates against Grimm in Brooklyn, the Bay Ridge Community Council debate in September and an October forum sponsored by the Dyker Heights Civic Association, was questioned by political observers in both the Republican and Democratic parties.
Recchia was widely perceived as having done very well in the one Brooklyn debate he participate in, an early October forum sponsored by the Bay Ridge Council on Aging, where he and Grimm traded attacks.
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