That was fast.
Several hours after the New York Post published a report in which former Republican Congressman Vito Fossella claimed “significant people” had asked him to run again for his old seat–even though an incumbent member of his party, Michael Grimm, currently holds it–the Grimm campaign is out with a fiery response.
“This is clearly a false statement planted by Democrats that lacks any credibility. Michael Grimm is our congressman and our candidate. He’s done a great job and we’re proud to have him as our representative,” Staten Island Republican chair John Antoniello declared in a statement.
Mr. Grimm further bashed the report and other “baseless rumors.” “As an independent voice for Staten Island and Brooklyn, my job is to fight for what’s best for my district. Sometimes that requires actions that are not in lock-step with the party, but I didn’t run for office to be liked; I ran to get results. Baseless rumors will not keep me from focusing on my work in Congress and fighting for the people I proudly represent,” he said.
Mr. Fossella decided not to run for re-election for his Staten Island-based seat in 2008 after a DWI arrest and admitting that he’d had an out-of-wedlock child from an adulterous affair. Mr. Grimm won the district back for his party in 2010, but has been dogged by improper fund-raising allegations that the Post report suggests have left Republicans scrambling for a more electable candidate.
Reached for a response to his Republican counterpart’s claims, Staten Island Democratic Party Executive Director Kevin Elkins said the report demonstrated the strength of his party’s candidate against Mr. Grimm, Councilman Domenic Recchia.
“Mr. Fossella’s statement says it all,” Mr. Elkins told Politicker via email. “The special interests and party bosses know Michael Grimm is vulnerable to a strong, independent Democratic challenger, like Domenic Recchia and they’re terrified. That’s the only excuse for trying to recruit someone with as much baggage as Vito Fossella.”
Update (7:42 p.m.): The State Republican Party also reached out with this statement from its chair, Ed Cox, denying that any of its members are backing Mr. Fossella over Mr. Grimm.
“Michael Grimm has the party’s full support and any other rumors are simply false. His record has been exemplary and not only do we stand behind him in his re-election campaign, we expect a big victory.”
Update (9:02 p.m.): The House Republican campaign chair, Oregon Congressman Greg Walden, also sent in a defense of Mr. Grimm after the report:
“This is a complete fabrication and a ridiculous notion. Michael Grimm has not only proven he knows how to win this district, but he’s also been an effective legislator for his constituents back home.”