One of the most closely watched contest race in New York City is NY11 Congressional race. After countless debates, some of a one-man show of Congressman Michael Grimm and a spoof from the Daily Show Jon Stewart mocking this race, proved this race is not one to be missed.
Republican Congressman Michael Grimm debated Democratic challenger Domenic Recchia in the final face off before voters head to the polls next Tuesday for midterm elections. Previous debates were combative as both squared off on issues repetitively being brought up. Recchia’s attacks are of Grimm’s indictment he is facing, while Grimm shrugs off these attacks by reminding voters what he has done as a congressman the past four years.
NY1 and Staten Island Advance hosted this heated live televised debate held in the College of Staten Island. The 60-minute debate brought hundreds people into a packed auditorium, where back and forth exchanges between both candidates included issues ranging from foreign policy, minimum wages and the candidates past records. It was a hostile debate at times while the crowd cheered for their preferred candidate during each of the verbal jabs.
In a race that was seen to be a shoe in victory for Democrats, due to Grimm facing a 20-count indictment, Recchia just couldn’t gain any traction based on his struggling communication of issues. With the polls showing Grimm with a 4-point lead over his opponent, Recchia was able to perform slightly better in tonight’s debate since he was more prepared than in previous debates. Nonetheless familiar attacks from Recchia were seen as he stumbled answering directly, deliberately distracting voters on the issues that were questioned.
The debate began with the question about Ebola, and both NY governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s quarantine rule. Both candidates agreed on the Governors’ plan of health workers returning from West Africa being put into place on a three-week quarantine. The Ebola question is big due to the large Liberia population living in Staten Island.
As the debate continued, Grimm pegged Recchia as an out-of-touch liberal, who will be a rubber stamp to President Obama and Mayor de Blasio’s agenda. Recchia continued to bash Grimm for his indictment and losing national Republican support. “You keep on saying you’re in the majority, but your party wants no part of you. You’re ineffective. You’re a minority of one.” Recchia retaliated when Grimm stated he was one of the only ‘NYC GOP congressman who can help him work with the GOP majority to get things done in Congress, while Recchia will be in the minority, as another one to make 13 Democrat congressman in NYC and not be at the table for discussion.’
On foreign policy, Recchia was asked about his lack of knowledge during the campaign trail on free-trade agreement. He responded to the concerns. “I know how to work with people and I’m gonna do that when I’m the next congressman. I’m gonna go and speak to foreign policy experts, I’m gonna speak to the State Department, I’m gonna go speak to my constituents,” he continued. Grimm mocked Recchia’s response to foreign policy questions using his own experience of running a foreign exchange program. “He talked about running an exchange program in my district for Japanese students. The reality is, he has absolutely no experience when it comes to crises like dealing with ISIS, the southern border. When it comes to foreign policy, he had no answer at all. After a year and a half of running for Congress, he should’ve studied up on the issues,” Grimm said.
The lightning round brought some surprises as Recchia answered “No” to increasing minimum wages to $10.10, while the audience gasped at his response. Later the question was brought up as to why he said no to increasing minimum wages. Recchia stated he didn’t say no, but changed his answer to that he “misheard the moderator question.” He then clarified his answer to “yes” he supported President Obama’s plan for increase minimum wages, when ask again by the moderator and after the debate.
Grimm’s behavior was brought up when earlier this year he was indicted for threatening to throw a reporter off a balcony. Grimm apologized and stated, “I’m a United States Marine and I’m tenacious.” The crowd was not receptive to this answer.
In Grimm’s final remarks, he stated that he was “giving his heart and soul the past four years on big or small issue and if reelected will promise to continue to have your back and will be there to help you when needed.” Recchia ended by saying he would fight hard like he did in the City Council, raise the minimum wage to $10.10, and continue to fight for woman rights.