If politics is a circus, then this year’s congressional race in New York’s 11th district was the freak show. Or the dung heap behind the big top. Or maybe not even a circus, maybe more like a roadside petting zoo, the kind where you buy alfalfa pellets out of a gumball machine and feed them to a crusty-eyed pony chained to a fence.
In this corner, Michael Grimm. A man whose many flagrantly disqualifying attributes make it almost impossible to decide which to list first. An incumbent congressman facing 20 criminal charges in a pending federal indictment. A man who named his health food restaurant “Healthalicious” (can we make that number 21?). A man who once threatened to throw a reporter off of a “fucking balcony,” who (allegedly) waved a gun around in a nightclub after a perceived slight, who campaigned against the “ground zero mosque” that was not a mosque and was not located at ground zero. A man who seems congenitally unable to avoid jumping on every alarmist hobbyhorse he comes across, from Ebola to Obamacare, and can’t remember the last book he read. Wait, strike that — a man who can’t even name a book, any book, when asked about it on live television.
And in this corner! Domenic Recchia. A man who bragged about bringing an Applebee’s to Coney Island. A man who considers coordinating an exchange-student program to be foreign policy experience. A man who lapses into paroxysms of flopsweat at the slightest questioning on substantive issues. A man who also, like his opponent, “Mikey Suits,” can’t even lie properly to his constituents about a book he hasn’t read.
These were the choices available to Staten Island voters. And they chose, I dunno, wisely? It’s hard to tell. They certainly chose decisively.
Despite massive spending against Grimm, Recchia did not unseat the two-term incumbent. In fact, he got his ass handed to him, losing by about 13 points. Against a guy who may very well be in prison before his term is up. A man who earned an endorsement from the Daily News seemingly on the basis that he might be in jail soon, making room for some candidates who aren’t walking indictments of the state of American politics.
Despite millions in outside spending against his opponent, Recchia just couldn’t pull it off.
Domenic Recchia concedes to incumbent Rep Michael Grimm: “I ran this race and, in the end, I stubbed my toe.”
— Diana Williams (@DianaWilliamsNY) November 5, 2014
Seems more like a headlong faceplant than a stubbed toe, but we won’t quibble. As for Grimm, he quoted the film Rocky. “You know, it’s not how hard you can hit,” Grimm said in his victory speech, because of course he did, “it’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”
And just so no one forgets, here’s three-term congressman Michael Grimm. Give him a hand, folks!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 5, 2014