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Grimm news for Democrats? - Brooklyn Paper

Grimm news for Democrats?

The decision by Councilman Domenic Recchia (D–Coney Island) to challenge Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) for his seat in Congress has Republicans cheering, and some Democrats cringing.

Southern Brooklyn Republican leaders say Councilman Domenic Recchia’s decision to run for Congress in 2014 will guarantee Rep. Michael Grimm’s re-election — and even Democrats in the district are afraid that the term-limited city pol will wreck their chances of recapturing the seat.

Republicans and Democrats in the district represented by Grimm (R–Staten Island) — which includes all of the Rock, as well as Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Gravesend, and parts of Bensonhurst — agreed that Recchia (D–Coney Island) has little chance of pulling the seat out from under the recently re-elected Grimm, and conservatives cheered the three-term City Councilman’s announcement.

Jerry Kassar, chairman of the Brooklyn Conservative Party and chief-of-staff to state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge), said Recchia’s well-publicized indecision over whether to run for city comptroller or borough president in 2014, and his lack of federal experience, would make him a pushover for Grimm.

“I say bring him on!” said Kassar. “Voters will have to choose between a strong incumbent and a challenger who doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life, and has shown absolutely no evidence of competence in national issues.”

Kassar also pointed out that the overwhelming majority of voters in the district live on the other side of the Narrows from Recchia’s power base, and that Recchia has represented only a small part of that turf in the Council. He suggested the Councilman is really just looking to avoid the unemployment line.

“It’s, to me, very odd that he decided to run,” said Kassar. “Apparently he just needs a job.”

State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long suggested that Recchia was tainted by his close ties to scandal-scarred Assemblyman and former Democratic Party boss Vito Lopez (D–Bushwick), who according to some reports helped the councilman land the powerful finance committee chairmanship.

“He was a strong supporter of the organization, and Vito Lopez was the organization in Brooklyn,” said Long, a Bay Ridge resident. “I don’t think that helps him, but that’s for the voters to decide.”

Even members of Recchia’s own party dismissed his chances of victory, with one Ridge Democratic leader suggesting that Recchia’s congressional campaign might be little more than a vanity project.

“He’s a guy who likes to see his name in the paper, and nobody takes him that seriously,” said the Dem, who asked to remain anonymous. “I don’t really think he has a shot.”

Worse, the party bigwig suggested that Recchia’s entrance into the race would discourage former Democratic congressman Mike McMahon — whom Grimm defeated in 2010, but some say would be a strong contender in 2014 — from running again.

“This really muddies things up,” the civic leader said. “The last thing anyone wants is someone to challenge Grimm and lose again.”

A source close to McMahon said that the former congressman was still considering a run, and argued that the Staten Islander would be a stronger candidate, having won the seat before and served as councilman from the Rock for six years — but said he was leery of an inter-party squabble.

“No one wants there to be a primary,” said the Democrat, who also asked not to be named.

Recchia’s camp refused to comment on the criticisms, or to remark on the ongoing federal probe into Grimm’s 2010 fund-raising “This campaign is just about Domenic and the great things he can do for the people of southern Brooklyn and Staten Island,” said Recchia spokeswoman Ashleigh Owens.

Grimm’s office declined to comment on Recchia’s announcement.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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