The New York chattering class was buzzing on Wednesday after the New York Post reported that Republicans, fearful that Rep. Michael Grimm could lose in the 2014 elections, had encouraged former Rep. Vito Fossella to challenge him in the primary.
Not so, says National Republican Congressional Committee chair Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore. "This is a complete fabrication and a ridiculous notion," Walden said in a statement. "Michael Grimm has not only proven he knows how to win this district, but he's also been an effective legislator for his constituents back home."
Grimm is also a member of the NRCC's Patriot Program, in which incumbents receive additional funding and resources to help win their reelection bids.
Fossella, who resigned from his Staten Island-based congressional seat in 2008 after admitting to having a second family resulting from an extramarital affair, told the paper, "There are significant people who have approached me to run…. They say I did a good job and should enter the public arena again … the number of inquiries have increased in the past few months," said Fossella.
Despite the statements indicating a run was not out of the realm of possibilities, Fossella also attempted to backtrack those statements by saying, "I told people I have no plans to seek office at this point in my life."
For his part, Grimm shot back in a statement provided to ABC News, saying, "As an independent voice for Staten Island and Brooklyn, my job is to fight for what's best for my district. Sometimes that requires actions that are not in lock-step with the party, but I didn't run for office to be liked; I ran to get results."
"Baseless rumors will not keep me from focusing on my work in Congress and fighting for the people I proudly represent," he added.
In addition to Walden and Grimm, Staten Island GOP Chair John Antoniello and New York State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox have both refuted the rumors of an encouraged run by Fossella.
Fossella, currently managing director at Park Strategies, LLC, could not be reached for comment.