In a major blow to former Congressmember Michael Grimm, who has been campaigning to win back his old seat in the House of Representatives by touting his steadfast support for Donald Trump, the president has endorsed current Congressmember Dan Donovan in the June 26 Republican Primary.
Trump used his favorite mode of communication, Twitter, to announce his endorsement of Donovan.
“There is no one better to represent the people of N.Y. and Staten Island (a place I know very well) than @RepDanDonovan, who is strong on Borders & Crime, loves our Military & our Vets, voted for Tax Cuts and is helping me to Make America Great Again. Dan has my full endorsement!” the president tweeted on May 30.
Trump was incorrect on one point: Donovan voted against the tax cut bill.
But Donovan, who is running for re-election in New York’s 11th Congressional District (C.D.), didn’t seem to care about the presidential error. The incumbent quickly tweeted his thanks to the commander-in-chief.
“Thank you, Mr. President! I’m honored to have your support and look forward to continuing our great work!” Donovan wrote on Twitter.
Trump also took a veiled swipe at Grimm in another tweet.
“Very importantly, @RepDanDonovan will win for the Republicans in November…and his opponent will not. Remember Alabama. We can’t take any chances on losing to a Nancy Pelosi controlled Democrat!” he wrote, referring to the 2017 race for U.S. Senate in Alabama, when retired Judge Roy Moore, a Republican, lost to Democrat Doug Jones in that deeply red state.
Grimm reacted to the presidential endorsement of his rival by attacking Donovan, not Trump.
“All the endorsements in the world can’t change the facts: Donovan has failed to pass even one substantive bill into law, and has voted against President Trump every time it’s mattered – from failing to repeal Obamacare, to banning sanctuary cities, and even against tax cuts,” he said in a statement.
The district Donovan represents covers the entire borough of Staten Island and includes all or parts of several Southwest Brooklyn neighborhoods like Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Gravesend.
Trump won the congressional district in the 2016 presidential election 53 percent to 47 percent over Democrat Hillary Clinton and he remains enormously popular with Republicans in many parts of the district.
Donovan, the former Staten Island district attorney, won the House seat in a special election held in May of 2015 to replace Grimm, who resigned from Congress after pleading guilty to a federal tax fraud charge. The guilty plea included an admission by Grimm that he underreported $900,000 in receipts from Healthalicious, a Manhattan health food restaurant he owned before he was in Congress. He also admitted that he paid some of his workers off-the-books, thereby lowering his payroll taxes.
Grimm served eight months in a federal prison.
Still, he had high hopes for his political comeback. After announcing his run for his old seat in Congress, he campaigned vigorously across Southwest Brooklyn and Staten Island charging that Donovan opposes Trump on many issues and that, by contrast, he supports the president.
Grimm’s campaign got a boost when he was endorsed by Trump friend Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communications director, who was the star attraction at the fundraiser for Grimm at the Staten Island Hilton on May 19.
“President Trump needs Republicans in Congress who share his bold vision for our great nation. Nobody knows that better than the President’s closest allies,” Grimm said prior to the fundraiser.
The Trump endorsement is sure to help Donovan, according to political leaders.
Brooklyn Reform Party Chairman Bob Capano, who endorsed Donovan, said it’s a devastating blow to Grimm.
“The entire rationale behind Michael Grimm’s candidacy has been eviscerated with the President’s strong endorsement of Congressman Donovan,” Capano said.
Donovan’s campaign spokesperson, Jessica Proud, was even more blunt. “Lights out @RealMGrimm. The entire rationale for his candidacy was just blown up in a single tweet,” she wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, there is also a Democratic Primary on June 26, with six Democrats running for the chance to take on either Donovan or Grimm in the November 6 general election. The candidates are: Michael DeVito Jr., Zach Emig, Radhakrishna Mohan, Max Rose, Paul Sperling and Omar Vaid.