Jacob Anderson reports for City & State:
Republican Michael Grimm defeated Democrat challenger Mark Murphy to keep his seat as U.S. Representative of New York’s 13th Congressional District, which includes some of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy last week.
As polls closed at 9:00 PM, the only bright spot near Public School 52 in Staten Island came from the generator-powered floodlights illuminating the large white tent that served as a makeshift polling station in the parking lot. The school and the surrounding blocks were still without electricity eight days after the superstorm made landfall.The streets were almost pitch black, except for the occasional passing headlights. Down the road, drivers in cars were backed up for blocks to get gasoline, while others stood in line to fill red plastic fuel containers.
The candidates spent Election Day continuing to help hurricane relief efforts in the district. According to Grimm’s campaign, the incumbent, who is being investigated over whether he accepted illegal campaign contributions in 2010, continued to try to help elderly residents, and coordinated with various agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as sanitation and other city agencies. One priority was the 470 people who were still in shelters as of Monday, Grimm’s press secretary Carol Danko said.
Danko emphasized Grimm’s focus on recovery, saying that while the election was important, it was “kind of the last thing on his mind.”
Challenger Murphy greeted voters near PS 102 in Bay Ridge, while also downplaying the importance of the election compared with the needs of the district.
“It’s just absolute devastation,” Murphy said. “We have to at least try to help the people in our community. That’s what I want to do.” Murphy said he had been in contact with disaster relief organization AmeriCares to pitch in.
Some Staten Island residents said they’re too concerned with finding basic provisions like food, water, and heat to make time to vote, according to DNAinfo.
Even those who did vote were not always aware of the congressional candidates, though Grimm seemed to have more name recognition than Murphy, who was Staten Island Borough Representative for New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
Grimm was featured prominently in a CNN story last week about the damage to his district. He toured wrecked streets and consoled distraught victims on camera. Murphy on the other hand has been accused of being out of touch with constituents, of not attending debates and other public events with Grimm. Murphy rejected the implication, saying he’s a fourth generation Staten Islander, and is now raising his daughters there.
Deborah Dennis voted “mostly Republican,” but broke rank to vote for Murphy, because of the need for “something different”, she said, referring to the investigation into Grimm’s possible wrongdoing, which he denies.
About Hurricane Sandy’s effect on the borough, Dennis said “It’s like a war zone. It’s horrible.” But neither candidate has made much of an impression on her after the storm.
“I don’t know if they’ve been around,” Dennis added, “but I haven’t seen them.”