Former Republican congressman Michael Grimm’s attempt at a political comeback came to an abrupt halt Tuesday night, with Staten Island Republicans decisively rejecting the former congressman bid to return to the US House.
With 95 percent of precincts reporting, Incumbent Dan Donovan led Grimm by 29 percentage, 64.3 percent to 35.7 percent (11,387 votes to 6,330 votes).
“I can’t thank you enough for allowing me to do it again. I’m going to keep the only Republican seat in NYC,” Donovan said. “This is only half over. We have our work cut out. We need to keep this seat.”
He thanked President Donald Trump for sticking “his neck out” in endorsing his candidacy.
“Trump had the confidence in me to be the lone Republican voice in New York City and stuck his neck out and told the world why he wanted me to be in Washington with him,” Donovan said. “Our country is at such a pivotal point in its history. We have a chance to make American great again. There’s so many more things that we need to do. We need to hold onto this majority in the House, because all Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters are talking about is taking over the House and impeaching our President. We cannot let that happen.”
President Trump endorsed Donovan late last month, warning the party couldn’t afford a Grimm candidacy in a district that could swing to the Democrats.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2018
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2018
Trump congratulated Donovan in a tweet after AP called the race for the incumbent, calling it a “tremendous win” adding the Congressman had “showed great courage in a tough race!
Tremendous win for Congressman Dan Donovan. You showed great courage in a tough race! New York, and my many friends on Staten Island, have elected someone they have always been very proud of. Congratulations!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2018
Grimm previously held the New York’s 11th District, which covers Republican-leaning, Trump-supporting Staten Island as well as a slice of South Brooklyn from 2011 to 2015. He resigned in 2014 after pleading guilty to a single count felony tax evasion. Serving seven months in prison, Grimm mounted a political comeback as a Trump-style populist last October by announcing his intention to regain his old seat from Donovan, a former Staten Island district attorney, who won the seat in a special election in 2015.
This race was seen as one of the most nasty primary races in the 2018 cycle, with both candidates getting personal, while fighting to show who was the closest to the president.
Donovan highlighted Grimm tax-fraud conviction as the main reason he couldn’t be trusted and a Grimm win would cost Republicans the seat if the former congressman were to run in the general election.
“My opponent went to federal prison and lost his right to vote. He couldn’t even vote for the president,” Donovan said on Fox News. “My opponent says he supports the president, but didn’t say anything to support the president during the presidential election.”
Grimm countered the attacks by framing himself as the true MAGA candidate, hitting Donovan for votes he voted against the president and his agenda, including the tax-cut bill and repealing the health care law.
“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,” Grimm tweeted after Trump endorsed Donovan.
Despite Trump endorsing Donovan, A NY1/Siena poll taken in late May, showed Grimm was leading against Donovan by 10 points, 47 to 37 percent, with 54 percent of voters believing that Grimm would do a better job than Donovan of working with Trump.
However, 46 percent believed Donovan was better equipped to beat a Democrat in the November elections, while only 35 percent thought Grimm has a better chance of winning the seat in November.
Donovan had outspent Grimm 3 to 1, with a blitz of media buys and robocalls from President Donald Trump and his son Donald Jr.
Grimm conceded at 9:32 p.m., just about a half hour after the polls closed, congratulated Donovan soon after and asked his supporters to back Donovan.
“Don’t worry,” he told supporters booing and shouting profanity at the Staten Island Hilton Garden Inn. “This is just the beginning for Michael Grimm.”
Grimm added, “It is extremely important that we keep this seat in Republican hands. When you’re in the heat of battle, I understand, it’s very hard to embrace who is, at the time, your opponent.”
Six Democrats were competing for the right to take on the winner of the Donovan vs. Grimm contest. Max Rose, a decorated Army veteran wounded in Afghanistan, secured more than 50 percent of the vote shortly after the polls closed. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s put Rose on the “red to blue” list of 18 candidates they believe can flip the seat from Republican to Democrat.
Donovan faces Rose in the general election on November 6, which will be his 62nd birthday.