NEW YORK — Former Rep. Michael Grimm is running his first cable ads attacking incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan, just days after President Donald Trump endorsed Donovan in the closely watched Staten Island Republican primary race that’s become a referendum on which candidate is closest to the commander in chief.
The 30-second ad, which will run exclusively on Fox News — it's titled “Donovan Says NO to Trump” — attacks Donovan for his “no” votes on, or opposition to, specific pieces of legislation Trump supported. The initial ad buy is $29,990, and the ads are set to run Saturday through June 24. The primary is June 26.
The ad features black-and-white photos of Donovan and a voice-over narration.
“Every time it mattered, Dan Donovan voted against President Trump. Dan Donovan voted no to repealing Obamacare. No to lowering our taxes. Even no to banning sanctuary cities while supporting amnesty. Donovan voted against President Trump and with Democrats like Nancy Pelosi,” the ad says.
The ad also includes a clip of Donovan, a moderate Republican, saying: “If you asked the people of Staten Island is Donovan a Republican or a Democrat, half of them wouldn’t know.”
Grimm, a former FBI agent who was elected to New York’s 11th Congressional District in 2010 as part of the Tea Party wave, is hoping for a comeback after resigning from Congress and pleading guilty to federal tax fraud charges shortly after winning reelection in 2014. He served seven months in prison.
Before his resignation, Grimm won national attention when he threatened to throw a reporter off a balcony in the U.S. Capitol.
He’s sought to paint Donovan as an opponent of the president in a district where Trump is broadly popular among Republicans.
But earlier this week, Trump took the rare step of publicly endorsing Donovan in the primary race, making his preference known on his favorite medium: Twitter.
"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!" Trump tweeted.
The president was mistaken, though — Donovan voted against the tax plan Congress passed this year, H.R. 1 (115), along with other blue-state Republicans in high-cost-of-living areas, who felt pressure from constituents concerned over the bill’s curtailing of the popular state and local tax deduction.
Trump also tweeted that he thinks Donovan is the most viable candidate in the general election.
“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!”
Concern that Donovan might lose the primary to Grimm has motivated the National Republican Congressional Committee and at least one outside group to fundraise or spend on his behalf. A PAC called New Yorkers for Excellent Health Care is planning to spend more than $80,000 on ads promoting Donovan, and the NRCC held a fundraiser for him last month.
In an interview with POLITICO earlier this year, Grimm, whose fundraising has been smaller than Donovan’s, shrugged off the idea that he’d run ads against his opponent.
“In a primary it’s a waste of money,” he said.