It was a war of words.
The Bay Ridge Community Council held its annual “Great Bay Ridge Debate” on Sept. 23, bringing together candidates for state and federal offices serving Bay Ridge. But one hopeful never made it to the stage. In a last-minute snub to his home district, Democratic challenger Domenic Recchia did not show up to debate Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge). The incumbent congressman blasted his opponent, saying the former councilman had not done the most basic homework before running and was not ready for the limelight.
“In the last week, my opponent has made several gaffes,” Grimm said. “What they realized is that he can’t be in front of the cameras.”
Recchia’s camp would not comment on why the candidate ducked the debate and instead attacked Grimm, who has pleaded not guilty to a 20-count indictment alleging tax, mail, and immigration fraud related to a business he owned before assuming office.
One leader of the Bay Ridge civic group said the congressional hopeful’s staff cited a scheduling conflict — though invitations went out last month.
“His handlers are telling us he is busy, but they aren’t saying why,” said Ted General, a member of the group’s board of directors.
A recent NY1 poll shows that Recchia has come within four points of his embattled rival.
With Recchia a no-show, Grimm used his time to smear his opponent as a cog in the Democratic machine.
“If you don’t think we’re on the wrong track, if you think President Obama and Mayor DeBlasio have this city and this country on the right track, then my opponent is your guy, because he will be lockstep with Mayor DeBlasio and the president,” Grimm said.
The contest between Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny (D–Coney Island) and Republican Stamatis Lilikakis also heated up Tuesday night, with the challenger attacking Brook-Krasny’s record on tax hikes, and the Coney Island assemblyman exposing his opponent’s political naivete.
Lilikakis, a political newcomer, attacked Brook-Krasny’s record on education, charging that the four-term incumbent voted against a 2013 bill establishing a college scholarship program. But Brook-Krasny pointed out that he never got a chance to vote on the bill, because it never cleared the assembly’s higher education committee, of which Brook-Krasny is not a member. The incumbent took Lilikakis’s gaffe as an opening and pounced on the business owner’s own voting record.
“I know that in the last 20 years, you’ve only voted twice, and that was in presidential elections,” Brook-Krasny said.
Lilikakis conceded the point.
“As far as my voting record, you’re right, and I apologize,” he said. “As far as that’s concerned, I had my reasons.”
The next Bay Ridge debate is Oct. 1.
Bay Ridge Council on Aging Candidates Forum at Fort Hamilton Senior Center [ 941 Fort Hamilton Pkwy. between 99th and 100th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 619–5110] Oct. 1 at 9 am.