U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan survived a fierce challenge in New York's Republican primary on Tuesday from Michael Grimm, a former congressman who resigned to go to prison for tax fraud but had appeared on the verge of mounting a political comeback.
Grimm conceded and congratulated Donovan about a half-hour after the polls closed, telling his supporters it was "extremely important" to back the incumbent and keep the seat Republican. Grimm also suggested that he'd be heard from again.
"Don't worry," he told supporters at a Staten Island Hilton Garden Inn. "This is just the beginning for Michael Grimm."
Donovan, New York City's only Republican congressman, won in New York's 11th Congressional District, which covers Staten Island and part of Brooklyn, after getting an endorsement late last month from President Donald Trump. The president warned on Twitter that a vote for Grimm risked handing the seat to Democrats.
At the time, at least one independent poll had showed Grimm leading the race.
A victory would have been a remarkable comeback for Grimm, who resigned his seat and spent more than seven months in a federal prison after pleading guilty in 2014 to cheating the government out of income and payroll taxes at his Manhattan restaurant.
In a bitter and bruising primary campaign, Grimm was unapologetic over his conviction, claiming that tax abuses among restaurant owners were common and his prosecution was politically motivated.
He assailed Donovan as a lightweight who hasn't done enough for his constituents.
Donovan, a former district attorney, defended his record and urged voters not to trust Grimm. He also tilted his politics rightward for the primary and cast himself as a loyal soldier for Trump, despite having been one of the few Republicans to vote against the tax reform bill that the president counts among his most important achievements.
Trump, who carried Staten Island in the presidential election and remains popular there, had said in a tweet that Donovan could win in November "and his opponent will not."
"We can't take any chances on losing to a Nancy Pelosi controlled Democrat!" Trump had said.
Grimm was also dogged with questions about his temperament. Before his prison term, he was best known for having once threatened, on camera, to throw a television reporter off a balcony at the U.S. Capitol.
Six Democrats were competing for the right to take on the winner of the Donovan vs. Grimm contest.
They include Max Rose, a decorated Army veteran wounded in Afghanistan, who has already raised more than $1 million in anticipation of going on to the general election.
Rose, who has a master's degree in philosophy and public policy from the London School of Economics, hasn't previously held elective office.
Staten Island, a conservative corner of liberal New York City, last elected a Democrat to Congress in 2008. U.S. Rep. Michael McMahon served one term before he was ousted by Grimm in the 2010 election.