Coming on the heels of Reshma Saujani’s challenge to Carolyn Maloney (via a new web video,) Staten Island congressional candidate Michael Allegretti is out with a letter challenging his primary opponent Mike Grimm to a debate.
Both are vying for the right to take on incumbent Democrat Mike McMahon in the November, who surely is hoping that these two get into a knock-down drag-out primary. In a release, Allegretti touches upon this point
“A debate will allow both of us to talk directly to the voters, and to make our respective cases as to why we should take on Mike McMahon,” Allegretti said. “The one thing the Democrats fear most is a well organized, thoughtful Republican candidate with ideas and grassroots support. This gives us a chance to tell the world what either of us would do as a member of Congress, and to shore up our support.”
As Celeste notes, calling for a debate is a common practice for underfunded challengers going against early favorites; the challenger gets to stand on the same stage, making the challenger seem equal in stature to the favorite, and it creates the opportunity for the favorite to say something stupid.
In the case of the Staten Island G.O.P. primary, sources tell me that Grimm has a slight edge: he has raised more money, has the Conservative Party backing, and the support of national G.O.P. leaders like Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Sarah Palin. But Allegretti has the support of the Island Republican establishment, and can dump a whole lot of his personal wealth into the campaign.
However, people who have seen them debate in person before (which, unlike Maloney-Saujani, they actually did) tell me that Allegretti seemed much more fluent on the issues than his opponent.
Full Allegretti letter below: