Democrats and Michael McMahon benefited when Republican Vito Fossella was arrested on drunk-driving charges and was accused of fathering a child out of wedlock. McMahon may yet be helped out once more by the close 2010 primary between his opponent, Michael Grimm, and Michael Allegretti that strongly divided Republicans in the district. But this has traditionally been a Republican district, and Grimm is determined to regain the district for his party.
Candidates for New York’s 13th Congressional District (two-year term)
(This district is made up of Staten Island and Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Gravesend in Brooklyn. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: Michael McMahon
Political experience: McMahon became the representative for the district in 2008. He sits on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Prior to becoming a representative, McMahon was on the staff of New York City Councilman Jerome X. O’Donovan and later became a councilman himself.
Professional experience: McMahon was a partner at the law offices of O’Leary, McMahon & Spero.
Key issues: In his committee membership positions, McMahon suggests on his website that he has been able to secured “hundreds of millions of dollars” for transportation and infrastructural needs. He says he wants to help reduce the tax burden for middle class families and make health care affordable again.
His subcommittee positions on the Committee for Foreign Affairs directly impacts his constituents, he says, as the district is diverse and fast-growing. The ethnic communities he represents are closely tied to the decisions he makes on those committees.
Endorsements: McMahon has been endorsed by President Clinton, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, New Era Democrats, NYS United Teachers, North Shore Democratic Club, Stonewall Democrats and United Federation of Teachers.
Chances of maintaining his seat: As detailed on OpenSecrets.org, McMahon still commands $1,097,073 for further campaigning to Grimm’s meager $385,160; when it comes to fund raising, McMahon is way ahead of the competition. However, a July incident in which his election communications director referred to his opponent having raised “Jewish money” left him spinning; he fired the director. He’s under a lot of pressure this year to hold a seat that may still swing his way, but will be a challenge to hold.
Candidate: Michael Grimm
Political experience: Grimm has no political experience.
Professional experience: Grimm served as a Marine in the Persian Gulf War. He has been an FBI officer, a U.S. deputy marshal and a deep undercover agent as well. He has an accounting degree and law degree and can practice law in New York and Connecticut.
Grimm has also founded a small health food store in Manhattan and is a principal in a bio-fuel company.
Key issues: Grimm feels it is essential to get control over the economy by curbing spending, lowering taxes and dispensing with the capital gains tax. He would temporarily reduce the employment tax, extend the Bush tax cuts and reduce the Corporate Tax as well.
According to his website, he has expressed concerns about a number of threats to national security, including terrorism, Venezuela, Russia, China, Mexico, Iran and North Korea. He wants terrorist attacks to be treated as acts of war and would like to see the end to military timetables for withdrawal. He believes the Patriot Act is a good plan and that political correctness isn’t helpful to countering terrorist threats.
Endorsements: Grimm has been endorsed by Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Iraq Veterans For Congress and Combat Veterans for Congress.
Chances of unseating Michael McMahon: McMahon has stumbled; he’s voted for cap and trade and the stimulus which Grimm is using to show he’s a “Pelosi Democrat;” he’s even tied McMahon to Pelosi through the health care reform bill despite the fact McMahon voted against it. He’s underfunded and both candidates are pulling in high-profile endorsements to try to show each other up. But for now it seems likely McMahon still has the edge to win.
Key Differences between Challenger Name and Michael McMahon
Energy: Having started a bio-fuels company in Austin, Texas, Grimm believes that small-business owners and municipalities are the ideal partners in developing environmental policy. He wants to expand legislative programs such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design to grade buildings in energy and water consumption, among other issues.
Grimm says he doesn’t doubt global warming, but is claiming the “jury is still out” on the issue and is not willing to accept proposals to mitigate the phenomenon until there’s more information available. McMahon helped ensure that Fresh Kills Landfill remained closed and will eventually be turned into a park during his time as a city councilman. He helped develop down-zoning which is a plan to help preserve community character from over development and is a strong supporter of wind energy.
Health care: McMahon voted against the Affordable Health Care for America Act and against the
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He did help pass a school nurse bill, which requires school nurses at all New York City schools with more than 200 students. Grimm is against the reforms as well, but contests that McMahon voted for Pelosi for Speaker of the House, thereby setting in motion the unpopular health care reform bill.
New York’s 13th U.S. Congressional District
Location: The New York 13th District is made up of all of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn.
2008 results: McMahon beat Republican Robert Straniere 60.9 percent to 33.3 percent.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 66 percent of the district is white, 14.3 percent Hispanic, 11.9 percent Asian, 6.8 percent black and 0.1 percent American Indian and Alaska Native.
The Cook Partisan Index gives the New York 13th District a rating of R+4, awarding an edge to Republican voters in this district.