Brooklyn braces for fallout from Bannon-Grimm partnership
The new partnership between former White House strategist Steve Bannon and former Congressmember Michael Grimm is causing a great deal of speculation in Southwest Brooklyn political circles, as partisans on both sides of the aisle come to terms with the national spotlight shining on the Republican primary brewing between Grimm and U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan.
Grimm, who resigned from his House seat in early 2015 after pleading guilty to a federal charge of tax fraud and served eight months in prison, is trying to win back his old seat in the 11th Congressional District (Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island).
Standing in his way is Donovan, the former Staten Island district attorney who won Grimm’s seat in a special election held in May 2015, a few months after Grimm left office.
Bannon, who served as campaign chairman for President Donald Trump and served in the Trump White House up until August, is supporting Grimm. After leaving the White House, Bannon returned to Breitbart News, the far-right news site that he ran before joining up with Trump.
Grimm and Bannon posed for a photo together at Breitbart’s Washington, D.C. headquarters to cement the new political partnership. The photo, taken by Grimm campaign spokesman Michael Caputo, was posted to Grimm’s Twitter account.
“Game on!” Grimm wrote on Twitter.
Bannon has already had success in his efforts to get non-establishment Republicans elected.
Bannon provided strong and vocal support to Roy Moore, the controversial judge who ran in the GOP Primary for the U.S. Senate seat in Alabama and beat Sen. Luther Strange, who had been appointed to the seat after Jeff Sessions became U.S. attorney general.
One of the immediate effects on the Donovan-Grimm race appears to be a movement by Donovan to the political right.
Political observers are speculating that the Republican Primary will turn into a contest in which the two participants take turns trying to prove who the bigger supporter of Trump is.
Donovan voted last week for a bill that would authorize $10 billion toward building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Our immigration system is broken, but any repairs we make are meaningless unless we stop illegal immigration. We’re a sovereign nation and it’s our responsibility to know who enters and leaves through our borders,” Donovan said in a statement.
But Donovan is undaunted at the prospect of a challenge from Grimm, according to people close to the lawmaker.
“Michael Grimm had one of the most liberal voting records when he was in Congress on issues like immigration, trade and gun control,” Jessica Proud, a spokeswoman for Donovan, told The New York Times.
Democrats, meanwhile, are salivating over the prospect of a Civil War in the Republican Party.
A divided GOP could give a Democrat the chance to win the congressional seat in the general election in 2018, according to Democratic-leaning observers.
To date, five Democrats have announced their intentions to run for the seat.
One of them, U.S. Army veteran Max Rose, has used Grimm’s candidacy as a fundraising tool.
“Remember when all the pundits and pollsters thought that Donald Trump couldn’t possibly win? We do, and that is why we have to be ready to defeat Grimm. We’re taking nothing for granted,” Rose wrote in a fundraising letter to supporters.
In the wake of the boost he is getting from Bannon, Grimm returned to the campaign trail to talk issues.
The former Congress member is demanding that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) extend the final deadline for the Superstorm Sandy Claims Review program because, he said, residents of the district have still not been paid for their losses five years after the storm.
“The Sandy Claims Review deadline must be pushed to at least Dec. 15 to assure all victims of the storm get the hearings they were promised and the money they deserve,” Grimm said in a statement.
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