By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A pox on both your houses!
That appeared to sum up the sentiments of Bill Colton, the influential southern Brooklyn assemblyman who has not yet made an endorsement in the heated race for the 11th Congressional District and is in no hurry to back a candidate.
Colton’s fellow Democrat Domenic Recchia announced on March 8 that he is running for the seat held by Republican-Conservative U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm. But Colton (D-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) is so far refusing to endorse Recchia, a former councilman with whom he has clashed in the past.
Recchia and Grimm have traded barbs over everything from Recchia’s attempts to tie Grimm with Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz to Grimm’s attempt to tie Recchia to Liberal Mayor Bill de Blasio. The two candidates have also accused each other of not doing enough to help Superstorm Sandy victims.
Colton accused both men of selling the voters short.
Grimm is running for his third term. The district he represents is largely concentrated on Staten Island, but does include Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Bensonhurst and Gravesend.
Colton’s endorsement is a coveted prize for many of southern Brooklyn’s politicians because of his legendary get-out-the-vote operation on Election Day. The longtime lawmaker, who has been in office for 18 years, has built up an army of loyal fans willing to go door to door to gather petition signatures and work for hours on end to make phone calls to voters.
He released a statement on March 14 explaining his decision to hold his cards close to his vest.
“As a local assemblyman and voter in the 11th Congressional District of New York, I am still waiting for a substantive discussion between the announced candidates on the needs and the future of the district. What I, and many other voters, am waiting for is a substantive plan, with a track record to support it, to involve federal agencies to help stop the building of a dangerous garbage station in Southwest Brooklyn, cut bureaucratic red tape to get Sandy recovery dollars to reach impacted families and communities, to see federal dollars be used to address our antiquated infrastructure, to use federal aid to expand healthcare services in the outer-boroughs, and to see federal officials take aggressive stands against senseless school co-locations that will harm our children. Those are the issues I am closely following and care about. My endorsement is something I take serious because it bears my name on a person or an idea I strongly believe in and am informed about. I refuse to be influenced by party affiliation alone or the power of incumbency when making such an important decision. The voters expect and deserve more,” the statement read.
“Public service is about serving families, addressing their needs, and caring for their future. Until we hear more about that and less about pettiness, I will continue to reserve my endorsement in this race."
In his statement, Colton did not address the rumors that he is seeking to thwart Recchia’s candidacy by encouraging another potential candidate, the Rev. Erick Salgado, a conservative church pastor who ran for mayor last year, to run. Salgado is said to be considering running for the congressional seat as a Democrat, meaning that he would run in a party primary against Recchia.