ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Closely watched U.S. House races in New York include a spirited challenge to embattled Staten Island U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, a Hudson Valley rematch and two first-time candidates battling for an open seat stretching across the state’s northern reaches.
Late Tuesday, Grimm declared victory in the race.
“We’re the greatest nation in the world because the ultimate power lies with our people, not with our government. And tonight is proof of that,” Grimm said.
He also said the “far left liberal agenda” is ruining the country and must be brought to an end.
Grimm, a two-term Republican, declared victory even though he has pleaded not guilty to 20 federal charges of evading taxes by hiding more than $1 million in sales and wages while running a small Manhattan restaurant.
As WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported, Grimm has said he will resign if he’s convicted of tax fraud.
Grimm also was caught on camera this year threatening to throw a reporter off a balcony after being asked about an FBI probe into his campaign finances.
He was challenged by former Democratic City Councilman Domenic Recchia from Brooklyn, who has solid backing from the national party.
Recchia stumbled on the campaign trail, freezing up when reporters asked policy questions, 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten reported.
Republicans were looking at the northern New York seat held by retiring Democratic Rep. Bill Owens, where Republican Elise Stefanik faced fellow first-time candidate Democrat Aaron Woolf. Republicans saw a chance not only to retake a seat in a traditional GOP stronghold but also to make the 30-year-old Stefanik the youngest woman elected to Congress.
Woolf is a documentary filmmaker and business owner who dipped into his personal finances to lend his campaign $600,000.
Matt Funiciello ran on the Green Party line.
New York’s other open seat was on Long Island, where Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice battled Republican Bruce Blakeman. Current Democratic Rep. Carolyn McCarthy has cancer and decided not to run for re-election.
That race ended in a win for Rice, 1010 WINS reported.
Rice has attracted national attention for her crackdowns on drunk driving and cheating on college entrance exams. Rice has also promised to carry on McCarthy’s gun control efforts.
Also on Long Island, Republicans once again made a push to unseat six-term Rep. Timothy Bishop. Republicans, who ran a local businessman in the last two elections, this time backed state Sen. Lee Zeldin, an Army veteran who served in Iraq.
The race, which was expected to go down to the wire, turned bitter over recent weeks with a flood of negative campaign ads from both sides, but voters at the Mastic Fire House polling place said it’s real issues bringing them out Tuesday, WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs reported.
“It’s about government and taxes,” one voter said. “I’m tired of the taxes.”
“Working people need to be represented,” another voter said. “We need changes.”
A high-profile rematch in New York featured Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney pitted against Republican Nan Hayworth. Hayworth won the seat in 2010 only to lose it two years later to Maloney, a former aide to President Bill Clinton who became New York’s first openly gay member of Congress.
Also in eastern New York, two-term Republican Rep. Chris Gibson faced a well-financed challenge from Democrat Sean Eldridge.
Eldridge is married to Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and pumped $1.84 million of his own money into his first race for Congress. In addition, Eldridge’s venture capital firm made investments in businesses across the eastern New York district he moved to last year.
Derided by Republicans as a rich dilettante, Eldridge argued that he had the independence to reject special interest contributions. Eldridge portrayed Gibson as too conservative for the district.
Also up for grabs is a Syracuse-area seat held by Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei, who enlisted the aid of Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton as he faced a strong challenge from Republican John Katko, a former federal prosecutor.
Maffei won the newly drawn seat in 2012 from the Republican who unseated him as a freshman congressman in a squeaker two years earlier.
It’s also Rep. Charles Rangel’s 23rd and final term in Congress, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported. Rangel easily won reelection against Working Families Party candidate Kenneth Schaeffer and Green Party candidate Daniel Vila Rivera.
Rangel cast his vote at his PS 175 polling place Tuesday, but said he has his eye on the fate of Washington, where Republicans are vying for power in the Senate.
“If they don’t get the majority, then they will continue to hold this country back for two years until they get another chance,” he said. “People who normally didn’t think this was an important election have heard enough to know that a lot of people are counting on them not to vote.”
Rangel said Republicans have made the midterm elections about President Barack Obama, who’s not even on the ballot, Papa reported.
Democratic U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Yvette Clarke, Nydia Velazquez, Jose E. Serrano, Jerrold Nadler and Joe Crowley were also all easily reelected Tuesday.
As WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported, First Lady Chirlane McCray and Mayor de Blasio returned to their old stomping grounds and cast their votes at the Prospect Park Library just a few blocks from where they used to live. He encouraged all New Yorkers to do the same.
“People in New York City need to stand up and be counted. Everyone needs to show up and be heard,” de Blasio said.
The mayor said he voted yes on two of the propositions on the ballot, except for one that would overhaul the state’s redistricting procedures.
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