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I’m a little bit less than halfway through my Spring Break and felt like taking a small break in-between making brackets for March Madness and following the primary results of the South Carolina Congressional District 1 race.  Yes, to me this is what qualifies as a “break” and yes, I really should be writing that paper.

A dramatic primary is oddly relevant to tonight’s segment of Taking Back The House as the Democrats might be trying to prevent an ugly one from happening.  This seat is one that is considered a toss-up by Larry Sabato and we might need a wave election to take it if we get the wrong candidate in ’14.

In the first few segments of this series, we have seen a myriad of Republicans that we should be challenging.  We’ve talked about a conservative veteran of the House who is in a blue district but votes like he is in a red one, a Congressman who was made very vulnerable due to gerrymandering, one who is practically unknown to non-political followers and of course, Michele Bachmann.  You may have heard of her.

But tonight, we are going to take a little road trip to the 11th Congressional District of New York and introduce you to Rep. Michael Grimm.

102510debate1DB094634--300x300Michael Grimm is unique in his own ways from previous diaries.  He’s now a second-term Congressman, who barely squeaked by in the depressing Republican tsunami of 2010 and one who held strong in his re-election fight.  He once earned a little bit of credit from the internet for his refusal to join the “Tea Party Caucus” and for wavering on the question if he identified himself as a conservative.

Of course then he joined the Republican Study Committee and voted for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.  So beating him would be a net positive for the Democrats in a few ways.

But let’s take a deeper look into the record of Michael Grimm to see if he can become part of a midterm gain for the Democratic Party.


  • Drafted legislation that would require corporate whistleblowers, if they want a monetary award from the Securities and Exchange Commission, would have to report fraud to their employers first. 


  • This is the doozy.  Grimm is actually currently under federal grand jury investigation over campaign finance funds.  The House Ethics Committee was asked in November 2012 to halt their investigation by the Justice Department as they are conducting their own probe on if:

Grimm solicited and accepted illegal campaign contributions and included false information in finance reports. It’s also investigating whether Grimm “improperly sought assistance from a foreign national” in fundraising in exchange “for offering to use his official position to assist that individual in obtaining a green card.”

Ofer Biton, an Israeli businessman with close ties to Israeli Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, was arrested in August by New York authorities on charges of immigration fraud. Biton was a top fundraiser for Grimm’s first campaign. Since then, some of Grimm’s donors have reportedly said that Biton helped them donate more money than legally permitted. They also said he helped funnel in money from foreign sources.

Biton’s arrest, however, was not related to the campaign finance allegations.

Yes that’s what Grimm is being investigated for and as of this writing, I believe nothing has come to fruition over the allegations for now.  Still, considering it’s a political investigation; I’m sure you’ll see plenty of attack ads over Grimm’s “honesty” and “accountability” which is going to probably be a decent strategy.

  • But this wasn’t Grimm’s first controversial moment as in a bitter primary in 2010 against establishment choice Michael Allegretti, Grimm was accused of “living a lie” due to Grimm’s alleged lies over his business, military and FBI career. 

Electoral History:

2010*: Mike Grimm (R): 51.5%, Rep. Mike McMahon (D): 48%
2012: Grimm (R): 53%, Mark Murphy (D): 46%

*denotes the previous 13th Congressional District.


Potential Prospects:

This is where this district might get a little tricky as there are two potential candidates who will run for the right to challenge Grimm as he goes for his third term in Congress.

The first potential challenger is former Rep. Mike McMahon who has been floating a potential rematch.  McMahon was a one-term Congressman and would be the most experienced candidate who would know how to campaign.  Unfortunately, he voted against the Affordable Care Act and his win in 2008 could be mostly attributed to the controversies surrounding then-Rep. Vito Fossella who retired.

The previous reference to a potential primary in the introduction comes on the heels of New York City councilman Domenic Recchia announcing a run.  Now that Recchia is firmly in the race, its probably likely that McMahon will not make a foray into the race as Recchia is now the DCCC-backed candidate here.

Why We Can Do This:

Well, frankly, it might be an uphill battle but given the district being only a lean-Republican district and the scandals surrounding him will only make this race even closer.  Recchia will have to put Grimm’s alleged misdeeds in the public eye and try to raise a lot of money in this area to have a good shot but its definitely possible.