NYTimes Tries to Boost a Democrat's Chances in 'A Seat for the Taking..." in Congress

In Monday's New York section of the Times, Michael Grynbaum reported on a local congressional race in Staten Island that Democrats see as ripe for the picking, with a headline that suggested the Democrat indeed deserved to win the seat: "A Seat for the Taking, but First Seeking Traction – Democratic Challenger is Largely Unknown In His Conservative Staten Island District."

Grynbaum pondered that Rep. Michael Grimm's Democratic opponent "remains something of a mystery," then did his best to rectify that by introducing him favorably to New York Times readers.

Voters in Staten Island know plenty about Representative Michael G. Grimm, the embattled first-term Republican facing a barrage of questions about his fund-raising practices and business deals.

The man trying to defeat him this fall, however, remains something of a mystery.

Mark Murphy, the Democratic challenger in New York City’s most conservative district, is a congressman’s son, a fourth-generation Staten Islander, and handsome enough to have enjoyed a minor career in television, including a role as Jimmy Connors in the 2001 ABC-TV tennis movie, “When Billie Beat Bobby.”

But with a month to go before Election Day, Mr. Murphy, 41, has struggled to gain traction in a race that national Democrats, seeking control of the House, had hoped would be a plum opportunity to pick up a seat. He has held few news conferences, is rarely spotted at the ferry terminal, and is still trying to introduce himself to the 13th District, a swing district that includes Staten Island and a swath of working-class Brooklyn.

Grynbaum came close to treating Murphy as the protagonist of the tale, "in danger of being tripped by attacks" from the corruption-plagued Republican.

But as Mr. Murphy, who lived in California for 18 years and is running his first campaign for elected office, focuses on fund-raising, he is in danger of being tripped up by attacks from Mr. Grimm’s camp, which has derided him as a “failed actor” who “lives in his father’s basement.” (Mr. Murphy, who is divorced, shares a home with his father on Staten Island.)