In Washington, Democrats need 17 seats to gain control of the House. One seat they have their eyes on is the one held by Michael Grimm of Staten Island and Brooklyn. And with more than a year to go until the election, Democrats are already gearing up for battle. Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Michael Scotto has the story in the first part of his series, "Fight for the House."
NEW YORK STATE -- As Congressman Michael Grimm makes his rounds this August recess, his competitive streak comes out at a camp on Staten Island. It's good practice for next year's election. That's because Democrats are already going after him, accusing the Republican of being too close to GOP leadership.
New York City Councilman Domenic Recchia is Grimm's likely opponent.
"Michael Grimm is in the pocket of John Boehner," Recchia said.
Grimm said, "I voted against my party so many times that I've been criticized by the right constantly. He's misleading people because he knows I'm a good Congressman and he doesn't have a prayer."
The Washington Post calculates that Grimm votes with Republicans 84 percent of the time. But the congressman does break with his colleagues on some issues He is open to a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and is opposed to shutting down the government in order to defund the Affordable Care Act.
"I don't support shutting down government. I do support repealing Obamacare. But you know how we do that as Republicans? We win the presidency and we win the Senate," Grimm said.
Democrats are also trying to make an issue of an investigation into Grimm's fundraising practices. But at this point in the race, Grimm is viewed as the favorite, in a district that includes all of Staten Island and just a sliver of Brooklyn.
One of the biggest challenges facing Recchia may have nothing to do with politics, but instead location, since he lives across the Verrazano in Brooklyn and not on Staten Island.
But Recchia wants voters to know that he's always thinking about the borough
Recchia said, "My mother lives on Staten Island."
And finding ways to shower it with council pork.
"As finance Chairman, I funded millions of dollars for different programs on Staten Island," Recchia said.
In fact, his name is all over a taxpayer-funded council newsletter for a district he doesn't even represent. A spokesperson for the councilman says Recchia didn't ask to be included in it. But Recchia knows he needs to get his name out, as he prepares to go up against a congressman who is ready to fight.