STATEN ISLAND — Despite facing a 20-count federal indictment for fraud, Congressman Michael Grimm went into election day with a hefty lead.
The race between Republican Grimm and Democrat Domenic Recchia for New York's 11th District, which covers Staten Island and southern Brooklyn, has been heated and contentious during the past few debates, devolving repeatedly into yelling matches and name calling.
But Grimm — who was indicted on fraud charges after feds said he hid more than $1 million in profits from an Upper East Side restaurant he previously owned — led Recchia by 19 points, according to a recent poll.
On the campaign trail, Grimm argued that he deserves his day in court and insisted that he will be acquitted. He also touted his record on Hurricane Sandy aid and blasted his opponent for lack of knowledge on the issues.
"When it comes to foreign policy, he had no answer at all," Grimm told NY1 after the last debate, "After a year and a half of running for Congress, he should've studied up on the issues."
Legal troubles weren't the only black mark on Grimm's record.
During the last debate, Grimm admitted that his responses were inappropriate, but referred to his past as a Marine.
"I'm a U.S. Marine and I'm tenacious," he said during the debate.
His opponent, a former Brooklyn councilman, has been criticized several times for his lack of knowledge on issues and concrete fixes for problems.
"His campaign strength, it would seem, is to say he's not Michael Grimm," the Staten Island Advance wrote in their endorsement of Grimm.
"When asked specific questions, Mr. Recchia offers canned catch-phrases on which he does not elaborate. He says merely that he believes in 'working together' with other officials to 'get things done,' but never explains how."
Even with Grimm's legal problems, the paper wrote that the opposition did not offer a better candidate for them to endorse.
"We are not overlooking Mr. Grimm's considerable legal woes, of course," the paper wrote.
"To have Staten Island's congressman under federal indictment has been a black mark on this borough and has made it the laughingstock of the nation. Unfortunately, his opponent's astonishing incoherence in public statements only adds to the ridiculousness."
The New York Daily News, in its endorsement of Grimm, wrote, "One is bad, the other is worse."
On the campaign trail, Recchia acknowledged his lack of eloquence but promised he would fight and get results for the district if elected.
"I'm not the swift talker like my opponent, but I'm somebody who gets results," he said at their last debate.
If elected, he also promised to try and secure federal money to fund the West Shore Light Rail study and to continue to try to aid residents and neighbors still reeling from Sandy. He said he would work across the board in Congress to help his district, and repeatedly said he wouldn't be facing a federal indictment while serving.
Other Staten Island races on the ballot on Tuesday: