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Democrat Withstanding Challengers in Staten Island House Race Despite ‘Jewish Money’ Flap

Michael Allegretti (R), Michael E. McMahon (D) and Michael Grimm (R)

Polls

Several political websites, including the New York Times and Congressional Quarterly, are calling the race in favor of Democratic incumbent Michael McMahon. A Sept. 19-22 internal poll McMahon commissioned from Global Strategy Group showed that of 500 likely voters, he leads Republican opponent Michael Grimm 51% to 33%, with 16% undecided. New York’s 13th Congressional District includes all of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn.


Biographies

Michael E. McMahon
Party: Democrat Incumbent Age: 53
Religion: Roman Catholic

McMahon grew up in Staten Island and received his bachelor’s degree from New York University. He later earned a law degree from New York Law School. He is currently the New York Representative of the 13th Congressional District.

Michael Grimm
Party: Republican
Age: 40
Religion: Roman Catholic

Grimm served in the Persian Gulf War. When he returned, Grimm became an FBI officer and U.S. Marshall. He received a BBA in accounting from City University’s Baruch College and a J.D. from New York Law School. Grimm has the official endorsements of Sarah Palin, Rudolph Giuliani and John McCain.

Michael A. Allegretti
Party: Republican
Age: 31
Religion: Roman Catholic

Allegretti received a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University’s School of Government and a Bachelor’s degree in History from Boston College.


Issues

Israel

McMahon said he supports a two-state solution and direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He calls for the PA to acknowledge Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people and for a cessation of all violent aggression towards Israel. He also said the PA and its supporters must end all claims on Israel. McMahon spoke in Congress demanding the release of Gilad Shalit.

Grimm said Israel is a key ally in the Middle East. He supports 10-year Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2007 to provide financial aid to Israel because on the grounds that it will boost Israel’s ability to defend itself.” He criticized President Obama for snubbing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his White House visit in March.

Allegretti supports Israel’s right to defend itself and ensure the safety of its citizens. He is unhappy with President Obama’s “lack of support of Israel.” Allegretti supports a two-state solution. He believes the President acted hastily during the Flotilla incident. “Israel needed a benefit of the doubt and after the smoke cleared, Israel was clearly right and they have the right to protect their citizens and to protect their borders,” said Marco Desena, Allegretti’s director of communications.

Iran

McMahon supports sanctions against Iran and spoke in front of the House about an added provision to the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009 that would force President Obama to report to Congress on the “trade and sales of petroleum extraction equipment between Iran and members of the G20.” He believes Iran sanctions cannot work unless U.S. allies support them as well.

Grimm supports economic sanctions and restrictions against Iran and is a supporter of the Iranian Sanctions Enabling Act and measures that would isolate Iran’s Central Bank. He supports the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act and the Iran Threat Reduction Act, which prohibits the importation of Iranian products with limited exception.

Allegretti supports sanctions against Iran and opposes the development of a nuclear infrastructure in Iran. He would support any President or Congress that stops Iran’s growing threat. He does not outline any specific plan or course of action he supports.

Iraq/Afghanistan

McMahon supported the Afghanistan War Powers Resolution and President Obama’s decision to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. He believes order must be established before the U.S. pulls out of the region.

Grimm’s campaign site stresses his military experience and consequent commitment to U.S. troops. He opposes “false deadlines,” for withdrawal, saying, “We must deal with the fact that a U.S. presence in Afghanistan will be needed for years to come.” At the same time, Grimm warns against attempting “to install a Western- style democracy” there. “As it exists today, Afghanistan is neither prepared, nor capable, of adopting U.S. concepts of a centralized, democratic government. Corruption will remain a staggering feature of Afghan life,” he states. “Our only chance of preventing the Taliban from waiting out our eventual withdrawal and returning to power is to teach the Afghan people that they have alternatives and options outside of growing poppy for warlords. If we do not provide education and economic options, then history is doomed to repeat itself.”

Allegretti said that the U.S. must leave Iraq and Afghanistan when order is established. His official position does not detail specific plans for either Iraq or Afghanistan but his director of communications said the situation, and Allegretti’s decisions, are dependant on what the generals on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan say.

Healthcare and Social Security

McMahon was the only New York City democrat who voted against the healthcare reform bill. But he supports consistent cost of living adjustments for senior citizens on Social Security.

Grimm opposes the recently passed health care reforms and dismisses McMahon’s vote against the bill, saying the incumbent still supports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “liberal agenda.”

Allegretti also opposes the healthcare reform bill and calls for a free market “solutions such as health savings accounts.

Counter-terrorism and Civil Liberties

McMahon voted to pass the Defense Authorization Bill that would extend the definition of hate crimes and strengthen penalties for offenders.

Grimm said terrorist attacks must be treated as acts of war and those responsible must be tried by a military tribunal, not in a federal court. Grimm also supports the Patriot Act “in full force” and, in an apparent reference to past U.S. torture practices, warns against investigating CIA operatives “who are guilty of nothing more than doing what was necessary to keep us safe.”

Allegretti opposes closing the detention facility for alleged terrorists at Guantanamo Bay and bringing any of the detainees to the mainland U.S. because of the security risk it poses. Allegretti also supports the Patriot Act. There was no immediate answer to how he feels about roving wiretaps.

Islamic Center

McMahon is against building the proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero and has called on the developers to change the planned location.

Grimm said that he is not anti-Muslim, citing his military history as an example, but he opposes the building of the Islamic center near Ground Zero. “What I support is respect for those who suffered so much,” Grimm said during a debate with Allegretti on NY1.

Allegretti said that he is against the building of Park51, the proposed Islamic Cultural Center to be built near Ground Zero and believes it should be moved to a different location. Though the developers have a legal right to build the center at the controversial location, Allegretti said this is a moral issue and the center should not be built near the site of the attacks.

Immigration

McMahon sponsored the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act (DREAM), which provides a course to legal residency for undocumented students, including those who were brought to the U.S. by their parents at a young age.

Grimm supports the immigration law passed by Arizona which mandates immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and allows police officers to stop and question anyone they believe is suspicious.

Allegretti said that he also supports Arizona’s immigration law during the debate with Grimm.

Abortion

McMahon has said that he support a woman’s right to abortion through he personally opposes abortion. He voted against a bill that would require pharmacies to post information about emergency contraception.

Grimm has said he is opposed to abortion but no official position has been outlined on his campaign website.

Allegretti opposes abortion but believes in exceptions for rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is in danger. He opposes partial birth abortions and supports parental-notification laws.

Gay marriage

McMahon supports same-sex marriage and voted for the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

During a debate with primary opponent Allegretti on NY1, Grimm said he opposes same-sex marriage. Allegretti is also against same-sex marriage but supports the protection of legal rights for couples entering into a civil union, specifically property rights and hospital visitation privileges.


The Campaign

McMahon faced a fierce backlash when his campaign sent a document labeled “Grimm Jewish Money Q2,” to Politicker detailing more than 80 names of Jewish supporters that donated to the Grimm campaign. His communications director, Jennifer Nelson, was fired for giving an interview in which she said Grimm’s money was coming from Jewish retirees in Florida and Manhattan.

Michael McMahon (D)

Source: Federal Election Commission

Michael Grimm (R)

Source: Federal Election Commission

Michael Allegretti (R)

Source: Federal Election Commission

Grimm and Allegretti have traded charges involving their personal backgrounds. Allegretti said Grimm used a military photo of himself with medals and honors he did not earn. Grimm said Allegretti does not reside in the district he is running to represent.


Demographics

Staten Island, which comprises the largest part of this congressional district, is home to the smallest number of Jews of New York’s five boroughs. A 2002 survey by UJA-Federation of New York put that number at 52,000, accounting for 12% of the population. Those numbers are boosted by the considerable number of Jews living in parts of Brooklyn that are also part of the district. The district is 21% non-white; 11% Latino and 24% foreign born.

Engage

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