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Recchia wrecked: Grimm reaps convincing victory

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The congressman who famously threatened to break a reporter in half “like a boy” got the next best thing when his opponent conceded Tuesday’s election.

Former Coney Island Councilman Domenic Recchia likened himself to a hurt little boy as he threw in the towel, ending the race for New York’s 11th Congressional District to incumbent Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge).

“Tonight, I’m going to quote ... Abraham Lincoln, who before becoming president lost eight elections,” Recchia said. “He said he felt like a little boy who stubbed his toe in the dark. ‘You’re too old to cry, but it hurts too much to laugh.’ ”

The phrasing was a misquote of Lincoln, apparently cribbed from the concession speech of presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, who suffered a crushing loss to Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952.

In January, Grimm threatened to throw an NY1 reporter off a balcony on live TV, and “break [him] in half like a boy” after the reporter inquired about a federal investigation into the congressman’s campaign finances.

Voters in the district, which encompasses Staten Island and a sliver of Brooklyn including Bay Ridge, delivered Grimm more than 54 percent of the vote despite a 20-count federal tax fraud indictment hanging over his head.

The former Marine and Federal Bureau of Investigation agent’s congressional seat seemed like low-hanging fruit for Democrats in April, when prosecutors slapped Grimm with charges of tax evasion, fraud, and perjury stemming from a health-food restaurant he owned before taking office.

But the embattled legislator won nonetheless, possibly due to a series of Recchia flubs on the campaign trail. Recchia cited a high school foreign exchange program he ran as a school board member as viable foreign policy experience, and later couldn’t answer reporters’ basic questions about the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact, which he had said he opposed.

During his concession, Recchia made light of the latter gaffe.

“My next project will be a book about TPP trade negotiatio­ns,” he said.

Grimm faces a court battle in December over the fraud charges. His attorneys successfully pushed the trial back from October so the judge would render a verdict after the election.

At his victory party, Grimm was defiant in thanking his supporters.

“You stood by me against all the odds,” he said. “And know this: I will never forget it. I will never stop fighting for you.”

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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