It was a sweet victory to be savored for Republican Congressmember Michael Grimm, who pulled out a double-digit victory over Democratic challenger Domenic Recchia, despite the 20-count indictment hanging over his head, and despite a huge financial investment in his defeat by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on an evening that saw Democrats across the country succumb to what amounted, in many places, to a GOP wave.
Grimm – whose 11th Congressional District includes all of Staten Island and a swathe of southwestern Brooklyn – celebrated his success at Staten Island’s Hilton Garden Inn, where he was thronged by supporters who wildly cheered his triumph.
Grimm secured 56,221 votes (55.35 percent), compared to Recchia’s 42,786 votes (42.13 percent), according to unofficial results provided by the New York City Board of Elections. A third candidate, Henry Bardel, running on the Green Party line, received 2,558 votes (2.52 percent).
“The real question,” Grimm told the crowd, “is how did we get here? Let’s be honest. The press, the pundits, a few months ago had us out. We were done. Then, just to be sure, they dumped $5 million on us, an all-time record for a Staten Island seat.”
But, missteps on Recchia’s part – including missing several debates as well as the now-famous assertion the challenger made that he had foreign policy experience because, as a school board member, he had handled a Japanese student exchange program – paved the way for Grimm’s re-election, just three months before he is due in federal court to answer mail and wire fraud and other charges arising from a health food restaurant he owned prior to being elected.
Recchia’s cause was also hurt, said insiders, by a preference by Staten Islanders (who make up 70 percent of the district) for a representative who hails from the island rather than Brooklyn.
That shouldn’t have been an issue, Recchia said in his concession speech, delivered at the Vanderbilt on Father Capodanno Boulevard in Staten Island.
“Through this campaign, I’ve always bridged two boroughs and I always believe you can bridge two parties,” said the former councilmember and council finance chair. “Everything that I’ve ever gotten done was done by reaching some kind of consensus and, if you have learned anything about the partisan gridlock that D.C. has become, it is that consensus is nowhere to be found. The people of Staten Island and Brooklyn deserve far better and I hoped to give it to them. I may not be the best talker but I’m a great doer. So I ran this race and in the end in stubbed my toe, but I’m proud of this effort.”
For Grimm, the race was a repudiation of “the far left liberal agenda” that, he said, is “failing this country, and we have had enough. Tonight is about restoring the American dream, leading the country, leading the world, and I am proud to say that Staten Island and Brooklyn will lead that charge. I, as your congressman, have never been prouder, and I will never work harder.”