Dan Donovan, Michael Grimm

Donovan: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File; Grimm: AP Photo/John Minchillo, File

Donovan Easily Defeats Grimm In Fight For Congress

June 26, 2018 - 9:35 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) -- U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan has survived a fierce challenge in New York's Republican primary from Michael Grimm, a former congressman who resigned to go to prison for tax fraud.

The fight between U.S. Rep. Daniel Donovan and former U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm was the most closely watched race in New York congressional primaries being held Tuesday.

Donovan represents New York's 11th Congressional District, which covers Staten Island and part of Brooklyn.

Grimm served more than seven months in prison after pleading guilty in 2014 to cheating the government out of taxes at his Manhattan restaurant.

He was leading in at least one poll when President Donald Trump weighed in on the race last month, urging voters to stick with Donovan.

Trump said in a tweet that a vote for Grimm risked handing the seat to Democrats.

Donovan is New York City's only Republican congressman.

The 48-year-old Grimm is a former Marine and FBI agent who represented the area from 2011 to 2015. He survived a political firestorm in 2014 after his violent threat against a reporter on Capitol Hill was caught on video. Following President Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address, Grimm threatened to “break in half” NY1 reporter Michael Scotto and throw him over the balcony at the U.S. Capitol.

A year later, Grimm was forced to resign after pleading guilty to felony tax fraud involving a restaurant he partially owned before going to Congress.

Grimm said he was wrong and "deserved a fine," but he said the matter should never have been a felony or a criminal matter at all. He argued that it was only made into a criminal matter for political reasons.

“Of course (I pleaded guilty),” Grimm said. “I didn’t have $500,000 to go to trial.”

President Donald Trump had endorsed Donovan.

"Remember Alabama," Trump wrote on Twitter, likening Grimm to Republican Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate who was nominated even despite being accused of molesting teenage girls and who lost the general election to a Democrat in the GOP stronghold.

"I have voted with the president 90 percent of the time in the 17 months he's been president, I've voted with my constituents 100 percent of the time," Donovan said. 

He thanked Trump in his victory speech Tuesday evening.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)