With the Republican Primary just three weeks away, former Congressmember Michael Grimm appears to be showing surprising strength in his quest to unseat Dan Donovan, despite the fact that President Donald Trump enthusiastically endorsed the incumbent.
A new NY1-Siena College Research Institute poll of likely Republican voters in the 11th Congressional District showed Grimm ahead of Donovan by 10 points, 47 percent to 37 percent.
The district takes in several Southwest Brooklyn neighborhoods and covers the entire borough of Staten Island.
The poll, which was released on June 4, was conducted May 29-31. Trump endorsed Donovan on May 30, meaning that during the first day the poll was in the field, May 29, voters did not know about the endorsement.
The president remains enormously popular with Republicans in the congressional district, according to the poll, which showed that 82 percent of GOP voters viewed him favorably. Fifteen percent had a negative view of him.
Whether Trump’s immense popularity can translate into votes for Donovan isn’t clear.
Grimm, who resigned from Congress after pleading guilty to federal tax fraud charges and served seven months of an eight-month jail sentence, is trying to mount a political comeback. Donovan, the former Staten Island district attorney, won the seat in a special election in May of 2015 and was re-elected in 2016.
Grimm immediately seized on the poll results. “I have full faith that the voters of Staten Island and Brooklyn know that I have their back. They know I love them like my own family, and I fight on their behalf,” he said in a statement.
Donovan is not concerned with the poll results, according to his campaign spokesperson, Jessica Proud.
“President Trump dismantled Grimm’s deceitful campaign last week by throwing his full support behind Dan Donovan and urged voters to re-elect him. The methodology of this poll is suspect and the majority of voters were not aware yet of the president’s support. We’re going to make sure every Republican knows Dan is President Trump’s chosen candidate, and we’re confident that his support and Dan’s record of results will lead us to victory,” Proud told this newspaper via email.
The poll had some good news for Donovan. While Grimm enjoys a 10 point lead overall, Donovan is ahead in the Brooklyn end of the district, 40-37 percent. On Staten Island, Grimm leads the incumbent by 13 points, 49-36 percent.
The primary will take place on June 26.
“In a clash of Staten Island titans, Donovan, the former district attorney, trails Grimm, the convicted former congressman, by double digits. Men are evenly divided, however, women favor Grimm by 18 points,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.
Republican women favor Grimm 50-32 percent over Donovan, according to the poll.
Still, anything can happen between now and June 26, Greenberg said. “Three weeks is a long time in politics and we’ll certainly be watching this race closely,” he said.
Trump, who announced his endorsement of Donovan via Twitter, also took a veiled swipe at Grimm in a tweet.
“Very importantly, @RepDanDonovan will win for the Republicans in November…and his opponent will not,” the president wrote.
Donovan tweeted his thanks to Trump. “Thank you, Mr. President! I’m honored to have your support and look forward to continuing our great work!” Donovan wrote.
The poll results came as Donovan and Grimm prepare for their first debate.
The two will go head to head on Monday, June 11, in a debate sponsored by 77 WABC Radio.
WABC Radio host Rita Cosby will serve as the moderator for the debate, which is scheduled for noon.
There is also a Democratic Primary on June 26. Six Democrats, Michael DeVito Jr., Zach Emig, Radhakrishna Mohan, Max Rose, Paul Sperling and Omar Vaid, are running for the chance to take on either Donovan or Grimm in the Nov. 6 general election.