Michael Grimm could cost GOP swing House seat
By: Alex Isenstadt and Elizabeth Titus
April 25, 2014 06:48 PM EDT
News of Rep. Michael Grimm’s anticipated indictment Friday afternoon jolted a competitive Staten Island House race and leaves his fellow Republicans with few good options for retaining his seat in the fall.
Grimm has not made clear whether he will stay in the running, and the expected accusations from federal prosecutors give Democratic opponent Domenic Recchia an indisputable opening in the swing district.
Mike Long, the state’s Conservative Party chairman, said his party would still support Grimm for reelection unless he is found guilty. He said he was suspicious of the timing of the indictment, which came soon after the closing of the district’s filing period.
But Long said he had no doubt that the development would severely damage Grimm in his reelection campaign, making it hard for him to raise money and motivate his supporters.
“Does it make a difference?” Long asked. “Very much so.”
The state’s deadline for submitting petitions to appear on the primary ballot closed April 10, meaning that it’s too late for another Republican besides Grimm to run for the 11th District seat, which spans parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn.
And New York’s party nomination process closed earlier this month, closing off another avenue to replace Grimm with a different Republican on the ballot.
While Grimm won reelection in 2012, the swing district broke for President Barack Obama.
On Friday, Grimm’s campaign had no immediate comment about the indictment report or how it would affect his candidacy. His attorney said Grimm will be “vindicated” and “continue to serve his consitutents.”
Just a day ago, the local elections board rejected Democrat Erick Salgado’s ballot signatures, according to the Staten Island Advance. Barring a court challenge, that ruling had set the stage for a one-on-one contest between Grimm and Recchia.
That same day, the board upheld Grimm’s Independence Party signatures, an organizational hurdle he failed to clear in 2012.
Kelly Kramer, an attorney who represented then-Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) when he was indicted in 2008, said that if Grimm is to stay in the race, he would have to consider whether he could keep up a strong enough fundraising pace to both campaign and defend himself. He would also have to consider the timing of a potential trial and whether to seek to expedite it.
“None of us knows how the case is going to play out,” said Kramer, who is now the co-leader of Mayer Brown’s white-collar defense and compliance group in Washington. “Everyone’s going to take a look at it. This is going to play out over probably months.”
“It’s a combative statement from his lawyers,” Kramer said. “It’s a statement that they’re promising a fight.”