The charges filed yesterday against Congressman Michael Grimm quickly became the talk of the town, as New York’s otherwise slow election season finally found some fire.
As a result, the story dominated the front pages of most newspapers and websites, examining the reaction from his constituents, colleagues and competitors, analyzing the charges, and reviewing his forever-changed electoral prospects.
Predictably, former Councilman Domenic Recchia was among the first to speak out – albeit in a rather cautious tone. Recchia, a Democrat, is challenging Grimm for the congressional seat:
In light if today’s news, it is important to let the federal authorities do their jobs and focus on this ongoing matter. I’m going to continue my focus on ensuring that the people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn have a voice in Congress fighting for their needs. That’s why I entered this race, and the news today has not changed that endeavor. I will continue to campaign hard and speak with voters about how I am going to fight for the middle class by creating jobs, offering better transportation options, and improving our schools.
While he didn’t go on the offensive with his rhetoric, Recchia is still capitalizing on his opponent’s woes. Politico reports that Recchia began hitting one of Grimm’s most reliable bases: Wall Street.
Where Recchia was restrained, Mayor Bill de Blasio wasn’t. De Blasio and Grimm have long been at odds even before the new mayor won election, and most recently over Superstorm Sandy relief efforts. The mayor called the indictment “sad,” but suggested it was a long time coming.
“I wish I could say it was a surprise,” the mayor said, according to Capital New York. “I think it’s something that has been anticipated for a long time. I think it’s sad every time one of these things happens.”
State Senator Diane Savino, whose district encompasses a broad section of Staten Island and a swath of Brooklyn that overlaps with Grimm’s district, opened up on Facebook, calling him a “slick talker,” and criticizing those who claim Grimm is a victim of a Democratic conspiracy.
Staten Island’s Republican leaders said the charges were “unfortunate” and “bad news” for the district – and little else, reports SILive.com.
Similarly, Grimm’s Republican congressional colleagues have taken a wait-and-see approach. They’ve kept their distance while not supporting or criticizing the embattled lawmaker. Grimm did spend much of the day yesterday lining up meeting with Republican leadership, according to Politico. Grimm is also seeking to set up a fund to solicit donations for his legal defense. He already owes hundreds of thousands of dollars to his attorneys for work done over the past two years.
Grimm is also being accused of hypocrisy, having spoken out as recently as last year for immigration reform that included tougher enforcement against those working here illegally – even though he appears to have systematically employed undocumented immigrants and attempted to hide it from the government.
But what about the race against Recchia? Grimm was considered a favored campaign until yesterday’s news broke. Then, The Cook Political Report, which analyzes House and Senate races and has a track record of successful predictions, flipped the odds and now says that Recchia is likely to take the seat.
FiveThirtyEight, the blog founded by stat addict Nate Silver to analyze political races, isn’t so certain. They say that Grimm’s anticipated 5.4-point victory would turn to a 3.2-defeat based on historical data on the impact of scandals. But the site says it’s too soon to tell, and that “incumbent senators accused of financial improprieties were hurt the least compared with those linked to other types of scandals, such as those involving abuse of power or sex.”
They conclude that there are still too many factors to tell, including demographic changes in the district that could help Grimm. All in all, they say, it’s best to “probably wait on at least one poll” before making a prediction.