Friday, October 31, 2014

If Steve Israel Can't Even Beat A Thuggish Republican With 20 Criminal Indictments....


The Staten Island Advance is a lot like Staten Island-- and far more conservative and parochial than NY-11 as a whole, which also includes some relatively enlightened parts of Brooklyn (as well as some equally backward Mafia-oriented neighborhoods, particularly in Bay Ridge). And the district as a whole has been changing demographically as more immigrants move in. In 2008 McCain beat Obama in NY-11, 51-48%. Four years later, NY-11 went the other way, giving Obama a 52-47% win over Romney-- an identical margin the district gave their Mafia congressman, Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm, over a pathetic Democratic opponent, Mark Murphy, son of a former congressman who was sent to prison for 3 years in the Abscam scandal, after being taped taking a $50,000 bribe. This cycle, Steve Israel managed to find an even worse candidate, Domenic Recchia, thinking it wouldn't matter because of Grimm's myriad legal problems-- like 20 felony indictments.

Recchia is such a terrible canddiate-- another wretched mini-me of Israel-- that he's actually losing against a serial criminal likely to go to prison during the next term. Yesterday the Advance actually endorsed Grimm! They admit Grimm is a horrible choice-- but say Recchia is even worse!
There are, on occasion, electoral races in which both candidates are of high quality and high integrity and conduct a tough but fair campaign about the issues.

Fair-minded voters have a difficult choice, but they can know that, no matter who is elected, they'll be well represented by someone who won't embarrass their community.

The election for the House of Representatives seat in the 11th New York Congressional District is nothing like that.

A difficult choice

On one side is the sometimes hot-headed Republican incumbent who is facing a 20-count federal indictment. On the other is a career Brooklyn Democratic pol, who, term-limited out of his high-ranking post in the City Council, thought about other city offices before he settled on the idea of the job representing in Congress a borough he knows  little about, his claims of deep ties here notwithstanding.

That's the choice voters have. And that's the choice we have in making an endorsement in a race that could not be much uglier.

That choice for us is Michael Grimm. Surprisingly, if a choice is to be made, Mr. Grimm should be that choice, even under these circumstances.

Command of the issues

For one thing, he has command of the issues affecting the district, as well as those concerning foreign policy and national affairs.

Most people could do without his incessant parroting of lurid GOP attacks on the administration, but no one can say he doesn't know what he's talking about.

The same cannot be said for Mr. Recchia, whose campaign has consisted almost entirely of attacks on Mr. Grimm.

That's undoubtedly because he doesn't bring much else to the table. His campaign strength, it would seem, is to say he's not Michael Grimm.

When asked specific questions, Mr. Recchia offers canned catch-phrases on which he does not elaborate. He says merely that he believes in "working together" with other officials to "get things done," but never explains how.

Apologists say he is "down to earth," "not as slick as Mr. Grimm" but a "fierce negotiator passionate about who he represents."

At some point, however, it's fair to ask if these claims of his supposed "simplicity" are not just a cover. No one's asking for slick, just knowledgeable.

Exclusive focus on Grimm's troubles

We're not alone in suspecting that his grasp of the issues is uncertain, at best, which is why his campaign handlers have focused almost entirely on Mr. Grimm's legal troubles.

That's good enough for Democratic partisans, some still seething that Mr. Grimm "stole" the House seat from the party's rising star, Michael McMahon, in 2010. But it's not enough for most Staten Islanders. Mr. Grimm may not be as genial as the challenger, but his record in terms of constituent service-- most notably after Hurricane Sandy but in other respects as well-- has been good.

In tune with Staten Island voters

What's more, there's no question that he is in tune with the needs of his district, and while we may not always agree with his positions, especially the kind that light up the cable news networks, his mostly moderate conservative views well represent those of a majority of Staten Islanders.

Witness his forthright statement that the Republican presidential primaries produce nominees who come out of the process too much in political debt to far-right forces to be electable.

We are not overlooking Mr. Grimm's considerable legal woes, of course. To have Staten Island's congressman under federal indictment has been a black mark on this borough and has made it the laughingstock of the nation. Unfortunately, his opponent's astonishing incoherence in public statements only adds to the ridiculousness.

Mr. Grimm has indeed been indicted, but contrary to the definitive condemnations of partisan critics, he has not been convicted of anything; in this country, that matters.

Indicted five years later?

In addition, rumors had it that Mr. Grimm's fundraising tactics were under investigation. But his indictment is for counts including tax evasion, obstruction and perjury, all in connection with his operation of a Manhattan health-food restaurant, before he ran for Congress.

Frankly, the long lag time between the alleged commission of these crimes and the indictment for them makes the indictment suspect in our eyes, especially given the highly charged political atmosphere and the degree to which his seat is coveted by the Democrats.

That said, however, Mr. Grimm has been far too cute about what will happen if he is convicted, saying only, "If I wasn't able to serve, of course I'll step down."

If Mr. Grimm is convicted, he must step down.

But who decides if he is "able to serve"? Mr. Grimm himself?

He has to go one better. If Mr. Grimm is reelected, and then convicted of any crime, even if he's not sentenced to prison as his detractors insist he will be, he must step down. And the people of Staten Island must hold him to that.

Stories about Mr. Grimm's extra-curricaular activities are numerous.

We learned that he spent considerable time in the ladies' room of a Brooklyn tavern with a female friend, who he claimed to be counseling.  We heard he pulled a gun during a melee in a dance club in Manhattan. We heard him threaten to throw a reporter off a balcony because he didn't like a question posed.

We know a female friend, said to have had a relationship with Mr. Grimm, pleaded guilty of channeling illegal campaign contributions to Mr. Grimm's campaign-- something Mr. Grimm denies all knowledge of.

We have said several times in this space that Staten deserves better than this.

As distasteful as this contest may be on a number of levels, we have a choice to make, as do the voters.

On Tuesday, Mr. Grimm is still the best practical choice for Staten Island.

Our system of justice calls for us to wait until February, when he faces trial, to discover the rightness or wrongness of that decision.
Unlike the crackpot editors of The Advance, even the national Republican Party is too embarrassed to back Grimm, a Gambino crime family stalwart. The NRCC has spent exactly zero in this race. The DCCC and the House Majority PAC put in another $1,961,599 just this week, bringing their total for the cycle to an astronomical $3,641,465. And for what? Another corrupt sack of shit who will be too scared to vote with Democrats most of the time and will probably lose his seat in 2016 anyway. Have we mentioned that Steve Israel is the worst DCCC chairman since 1866?

UPDATE: Grimm Will Beat Recchia-- By A Lot

As anyone could have predicted-- and many Outside the Beltway did-- Israel's pathetic recruit, Domenic Recchia is falling flat on his face. A few minutes ago, Siena posted their last poll of the district and it shows Grimm with a stupendous 19-point lead over Recchia! Only SteveIsrael could have ever come up with this kind of a scenario. It's beyond belief.
Incumbent Republican Representative Michael Grimm has opened a wide, 19-point lead over Democratic challenger Domenic Recchia. Grimm leads Recchia 53-34 percent, up significantly from a narrow 44-40 percent lead seven weeks ago, according to a NY 1 News/Capital New York/Siena College Research Institute poll of likely 11th C.D. voters. Green Party candidate Henry Bardel has the support of five percent of voters. Grimm has gained this lead by solidifying his Republican base and turning a 14-point lead with independents into a 37-point lead.

“Early on, this race looked like it was going to be one of the closest in the state-- a former Democratic City Council member taking on an embattled incumbent Republican under Federal indictment in a district that is-- at least by enrollment-- dominated by Democrats,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. “That no longer seems to be the case, as Grimm has taken a commanding 19-point lead into the final days of the campaign.

“Recchia’s seven-point September lead in Brooklyn has been cut to a narrow three-point lead, while Grimm has extended his lead in Staten Island, which accounts for more than two-thirds of voters, from nine to 28 points. Grimm has the support of 83 percent of Republicans, up from 73 percent. He also has the support of 31 percent of Democrats and has a better than five-to-two lead with independents,” Greenberg said.

“Last month, Grimm led by 11 points with men, even as the candidates were virtually tied with women,” Greenberg said. “Today, Grimm leads by 19 points with men and women.”

“In mid-September, Grimm had a negative 39-49 percent favorability rating. In a complete reversal, today he had a positive 48-43 percent favorability rating. Recchia has gone in the opposite direction, as the percentage of voters viewing him unfavorably has doubled.  He now has a negative 31-46 percent favorability rating,” Greenberg said.

“Grimm’s favorability rating is essentially unchanged with Democrats, however, his positive rating from Republicans has jumped from two-to-one to better than three-to-one.  And independents, who had previously viewed Grimm unfavorably by an 11-point margin, now view him favorably by a 13-point margin,” Greenberg said. “Recchia’s favorability rating tanked with Republicans and independents.”

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