Rep. Grimm Defeats Challenger Murphy for Staten Island Congressional Seat

By Nicholas Rizzi and Mathew Katz  on November 7, 2012 1:08am  | Updated on November 7, 2012 1:09am

STATEN ISLAND — Incumbent Republican Rep. Michael Grimm kept his 11th Congressional District seat against Democratic challenger Mark Murphy on Tuesday night.

As many residents in Staten Island still had no power or lost their homes, Grimm held a scaled-back celebration party to briefly thank supporters at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bloomfield.

“I wish that I could be in a more celebratory mood. There are just so many people suffering," said Grimm, shortly after midnight. "I'm just so down with what I've seen all day."

Many voters told reporters the hurricane put a fizzle on the once hotly contested Congressional race, and some voters in the hardest hit areas said they would not turn out to vote, something Grimm said he understood.

“I completely understand. They’re devastated. Under these circumstances, I completely understand,” he said. “In the grand scheme of things, these people are at the end of their rope, so it just might not be a priority.”

However, some voters who kept up with the congressional race made it out to P.S. 52 on Buel Avenue to cast their votes in a cold tent powered by generators, because the site still has no power.

Joyce Anderson, 24, of Grasmere, usually votes Democratic, but said the decision between the two candidates was a hard one. Seeing Grimm help out in hard hit areas sealed her vote.

"It was a hard decision," Anderson said. "I wasn't really sure who I would vote for."

"I had seen him go out and help a lot of people," she said, explaining why she ultimately voted for Grimm.

Summit Desai, 35, of Dongan Hills, said he was going to vote for Grimm anyway, but seeing him in the hard hit areas confirmed his decision.

"He was down in New Drop Beach, Tottenville, helping out relief and rescue," Desai said. "A guy like that is good in my book."

Grimm called the Staten Island and south Brooklyn "Mini-Katrina" last week after the hurricane left Staten Island with the highest amount of fatalities in New York City from the storm.

Some voters said the hurricane did not sway their decision, but said they chose Grimm based on the work he's already done in office.

"I think he's done a good job," said Loretta Flaherty, 64, from Midland Beach, who had some flood damage to her home.

Before the storm, the race between the two got heated, with each candidate running attack ads against each other.

Grimm gave Murphy the nickname "Hollywood Murphy," because of his challenger's failed attempt at an acting career, while Murphy focused on what he called Grimm's numerous scandals.

In August, Murphy called on the congressman to give back $500,000 in donations after a top Grimm fundraiser was arrested.

"It’s clear the $500,000 was obtained by illegal means, and should be returned," Murphy said in a statement. "So I call on Michael Grimm to return those campaign funds immediately."

However on Tuesday, both candidates said they stopped campaigning alltogether and were helping with relief efforts in the borough.

After hearing that some polling stations had no heat or lights, Murphy's staff called the Board of Elections to fix the problem immediately.

“Every citizen should be able to vote in private and in comfort,” Murphy said.

But even as Grimm celebrated his victory on Tuesday night, he noted that there was still a long road to recovery for Staten Island, and cut his party short to get back to work.

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