Another solo show for embattled congressmember as Election Day nears

Congressmember Michael Grimm had another solo performance, this time at the candidate’s forum sponsored by the Dyker Heights Civic Association on Tuesday, October 14.

Facing the very friendly crowd at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, 80th Street and 11th Avenue, the Republican/Conservative Grimm went on at length about the “very liberal progressive” agenda that he contends could destroy the United States, if left unchecked.

“If we continue on this path, we are going to lose our city and our country,” Grimm said, as he repeatedly tied his opponent, former City Councilmember Domenic Recchia, a Democrat, to what he contended were the failed policies of President Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“I think the election comes down to one thing, your ideology,” he told his listeners, contending that today’s Democratic Party has been “co-opted by a far left liberal agenda.” In its place, said Grimm, the U.S. needs to reduce taxes, particularly on business, loosen regulations on business, and start drilling to “tap into our energy resources. If we don’t, we can’t compete with the rest of the world.”

In addition, Grimm – who represents the 11th Congressional District, comprising all of Staten Island, and a portion of southwest Brooklyn — contended that Recchia was unprepared to become a member of Congress. “He’s run a negative campaign,” said Grimm. “Michael Grimm is bad, so vote for me. When you get past that, he’s not qualified.”

At the one encounter in Brooklyn between the two, on October 1 at the Fort Hamilton Senior Center, Recchia had charged that the former Marine and FBI agent had “lied to the FBI, lied to the U.S. attorney’s office and he’s lying you here today.”

More recently, the Recchia campaign began sending out a series of emails, 20 counts for 20 days, each one detailing one of the charges against Grimm, who faces trial beginning in December on a 20-count federal indictment that includes charges of tax evasion and mail and wire fraud.

Fran Vella-Marrone, DHCA’s long-time president, who is a Grimm staffer, also assailed Recchia for missing the debate. She said that, while Recchia’s campaign had contacted her after receiving an invitation to the forum, and said it was being sent to the candidate’s scheduler, she never heard back after that.

Then, Vella-Marrone went on, “I read in one of the daily newspapers that the reason he wasn’t coming was because of me. The debate happens every year. When I’m here, I’m president of the Dyker Heights Civic Association. I wear that hat, regardless of where I work, no matter what my ideology is, and I am offended, not just for myself but because of this organization,” which has been around for decades and has a long history of holding pre-election debates, she said.

Recchia’s absence was remarked upon by audience members as well. One woman stood to ask a question. “Good evening,” she said. “My question is for Mr. Recchia. Oh, he’s not here.”

When the laughter subsided, she said, “My question is, why isn’t he showing up? What is he afraid of?”

Contacted for comment, Sarah Weinstein, a spokesperson for Recchia, said, “”Well it’s not surprising that Michael Grimm can’t seem to give up his bullying tough-guy routine — although it’s refreshing that he’s not directing his threats at the press this time. But, no amount of schoolyard taunting makes it appropriate to have a paid member of your staff moderate a debate. Domenic has already debated Michael Grimm once and will gladly compare their records again in the upcoming four scheduled debates. Michael Grimm should stop wasting his time and save the tough guy act for when he’ll need it behind bars.”

Election Day is November 4.

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