Expect a lot of Congressman Grimm memes.
A double dose of trouble for Grimm’s reelection campaign is growing in his own backyard.
By now you’ve all heard of the Michael Grimm fiasco: his arrest, the sordid details, etc. etc. But while he still has yet to have his day in court, what you may not have heard of are the faces behind a growing movement to oust Congressman Grimm once and for all.
“He just doesn’t flip-flop, he flounders!” declared Dylan Michael Schwartz, the new Executive Director of Your Vote Counts, a recently reorganized Staten Island-based political action committee working to mobilize voters to “Flip the district” by electing democratic Councilman Domenic Recchia.
The strategy, according to Schwartz, will focus on exposing Grimm’s “utter disrespect for the people of Staten Island.” For example, “To tout like he helped with the Sandy Recovery is abhorrent; he voted against it twice…his own bill….and now the people want to know why he’s holding their lives and future in the air while he’s up in Congress supposed to be helping the people of Brooklyn and Staten Island!”
Utilizing the power of independent expenditures, the PAC will work to “expose Congressman Grimm’s flip-flopping on women’s issues, the environment, and labor,” according to Schwartz. Mediums will include direct mail, print and social media, web casts, even television ads.
Members of the YLA with Dylan Schwartz (center) and Public Advocate Letitia James (center right) at the Democratic Organization of Richmond County’s Annual Dinner.
Young people are also getting involved, perhaps even for the first time. Motivated by recent headlines, Schwartz spearheaded The Young Leaders Academy, or more precisely, the Democratic Organization of Richmond County’s campaign training program. This unique program attracted the interest of dozens of volunteer high schoolers and college students primarily from Staten Island ready to mobilize their apathetic peers. The curriculum is quite comprehensive; taught by a hodgepodge of veteran operatives and campaign professionals who donate their experience via lectures, webcasts, and grassroots campaigning exercises – all in an effort to raise future leaders equipped with skills in fundraising, community organizing, communications, and legislative action.
With Grimm winning reelection in 2012 by just 5%, a mobilized youth vote might just be the nail in his coffin.
In addition to renewing the PAC and spearheading the YLA, Schwartz -himself a native Staten Islander- is no stranger to political activism. His pedigree includes organizing campaigns ranging from Florida – where he was named one of the top 10 field organizers for President Obama’s reelection campaign – to NYC serving as Deputy Campaign manager for Peter Vallone Jr’s. bid for Queens Borough President.
While the PAC has been rather quiet in recent history, Grimm’s racy headlines have been the boost of energy needed to renew interest, said Schwartz, aided in part by a bit on Bill Maher’s Flip-a-District campaign which made national headlines. And while it’s an uphill battle facing a heavily entrenched foe, outreach efforts will give Staten Island and Brooklyn voters – both old and new – food for thought the next time they go to the polls: ranging from alleged campaign finance fraud; to Grimm’s threatening of a reporter with physical violence; to his latest federal fraud and tax charges, he is quite a colorful character with a very colorful history just begging to be lampooned.
The difference this time around, is that the opposition will be raised here at home to tip the balance, said Schwartz. This sentiment seems to be growing and it looks like he won’t be alone as some consider Grimm’s ouster small potatoes on the national scale, even sounding very open to seeing him replaced.
“Mikey is not that important, he is no threat to the power structure, he is a slick talker with a nice resume who seems to be in trouble. he was not on track for greatness as a national leader, not on track to upset the national scene,” wrote State Senator Diane Savino, a member of the Republican led Independent Conference whose district includes parts of Staten Island.
The renewed PAC, will help build on this momentum and at the very least, put some much-needed money behind their message of a worthy alternative.
Stay tuned for the latest.