Domenic Recchia wants Congressman Michael Grimm to lose the bully pulpit.
The Democrat and former Brooklyn councilman railed against the Republican incumbent on NY1 last night, repeatedly accusing him of being a bully.
“We have a problem with bullying on the social media, alright, we have to address this and here you turn on the TV and you see our congressman bullying a reporter? That’s unacceptable, we deserve better,” Mr. Recchia told host Errol Louis.
Mr. Grimm in January threatened to throw Michael Scotto, a NY1 reporter, off a balcony after he asked him about an ongoing federal investigation into Mr. Grimm’s fund-raising. In April, Mr. Grimm was indicted on a slew of federal charges related to the operation of a restaurant he owned before he was elected to Congress in 2010.
Mr. Recchia, considered more of an underdog for the Staten Island-based seat before Mr. Grimm was indicted and lost much of his support among national Republicans, is hoping to capitalize off of Mr. Grimm’s negative headlines. He slammed the Republican again last night for the April indictment, calling the federal charges “serious” and “unacceptable.”
But Mr. Recchia, who repeatedly emphasizes on the campaign trail that he is married with children (unlike the bachelor congressman), alleged that Mr. Grimm was setting a bad example for children.
“We spend hundreds of thousand of dollars for anti-bullying programs, alright, I’m a father. I’m the husband of a public school teacher,” he said. “Three children, two of them in high school, one in middle school, I know what parents are talking about.”
“Parents are coming up to me and saying we need a new congressman, someone we can be proud of. This is bullying,” he added.
Mr. Grimm said Mr. Recchia was simply “exploiting” the issue of bullying and pointed to his own record of co-sponsoring anti-bullying legislation.
“For my opponent to exploit a heartbreaking issue like bullying, which affects thousands of innocent New York City kids every year, to score political points is nothing short of despicable,” Mr. Grimm said. “Since he has no record of fighting for Staten Island and Brooklyn, he politicizes this tragic epidemic to levy political attacks against me. Meanwhile, my office has helped numerous families with bullying issues, including 11-year-old Cyon Williams and his mother, a bright young man whom I’ve met with personally and am actively assisting in getting a school transfer. I’ve cosponsored two bi-partisan anti-bullying bills in Congress and took to the House floor demanding accountability from City officials charged with addressing bullying. My opponent can attack me all he wants, but it won’t help a single New York City child struggling with the torment of bullying.”
Updated with comment from Mr. Grimm.