The two GOP candidates vying to represent South Brooklyn and Staten Island referred to each other as “the convict Congressman” and “lying Dan Donovan” as they debated Monday.
Former Congressman Michael Grimm and incumbent U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan debated on 77 WABC Radio Monday where they went back-and-forth on the issues, as well as attacking each other’s personal records.
The debate, which WABC Radio Host and Political Editor Rita Cosby moderated, hit on issues including immigration, the New York City Housing Authority, the opioid crisis and race relations. Grimm took shots at Donovan’s voting history and Donovan took shots at Grimm’s prison time.
When asked about recent polls that show Grimm being up as much as ten points, Grimm said his record during his time in Congress explains why the people are eager to have him back in Washington.
“You know what the people actually care about?” he asked, “They care about that I was actually able to deliver for them.”
Donovan said Grimm already had a chance when he originally served as a Congressman, and lost that trust when he was forced to resign.
“I was a prosecutor for 20 years,” he said, “I put people like him in prison”
Grimm, who was charged with 20 counts of fraud, and was convicted of one, served eight months in prison after resigning from office.
He defended himself by saying that it should have been a civil issue that was used against him by a corrupt Justice Department under the Obama administration.
“It was a witch hunt,” Grimm said, “And everyone knows this except Dan Donovan.”
According to Grimm, the reason Donovan continuously brings up his criminal past is to hide the fact that he hasn’t done anything in congress.
“When you don’t pass one single bill, this is what you have to worry about,” Grimm said.
Donovan said he was the sixth most productive freshman congress member.
Donovan, who has the endorsement of Donald Trump, said the president may still campaign for him before the primary.
“I think it was all proven when my opponent wanted Donald Trump’s endorsement and the President looked at both of us and said, ‘Dan Donovan is the man I need to help me get the America First agenda achieved, and please don’t vote for his opponent because we don’t need another Alabama on our hands,’” Donovan said.
Grimm responded by saying that although Donovan has the support of the establishment, he has the support of the people.
The two disputed Donovan’s voting history with the president. Donovan claimed he consistently votes with the president, which is why he received the endorsement, but Grimm cited instances as to when he voted against him.
Immigration was the most contentious issue debated between the two. Donovan used the opportunity to attack Grimm for his past where Grimm admitted to hiring undocumented immigrants to work for his businesses.
Grimm questioned how tough Donovan could be on immigration considering statements Donovan made in the past about sanctuary cities.
The two candidates found common ground on criticizing Mayor Bill de Blasio on how he has handled NYCHA in his time in office. They both said major changes need to be made.
Donovan said that people in NYCHA are living in poor conditions, including being at risk with lead paint, and a lack of heat.
“I think its long overdue that it’s been exposed,” Grimm said of the poor conditions that people have been living in.
Grimm said he will define Donovan’s future on June 26 when he beats him in the election, and that the people of his district will work with the president on his entire agenda.
“They have the right president,” he said, “Now after this election, they’re going to have the right congressman.”