NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A heated debate was held Monday in of the most closely-watched political races in our area. It was the battle of the Republicans: Congressman Dan Donovan against former Congressman Michael Grimm to represent Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn.
The first GOP primary debate between Rep. Dan Donovan and his predecessor Michael Grimm was like a playground brawl.
The candidates exchanged low blows and insults.
"My opponent's whole campaign has been based on lies about my record and about his," Donovan said.
"I'll let everybody else decide Dan, you look like a fool right now," Grimm said.
It was no surprise that the most heated topic was Grimm's conviction for felony tax fraud. The former congressman served time in prison for filing false tax documents and under-reporting wages and revenue at his Manhattan restaurant. Donovan is demanding Grimm release his tax records.
"You're driving around in a Lexus, you don't have a job, nobody's hired you," Donovan said. "I don't know. I don't know what's there. I don't know. I'd like to know."
"I don't hide from the fact that I deserve the fine. There's no question I deserve the fine. But I didn't deserve the criminal prosecution which was the first in the history of New York City by the federal government ever," Grimm said. "It was a witch hunt and everybody knows it except Dan Donovan."
Before Grimm announced his candidacy he claims Donovan tried to discourage him from running by offering to help him get a pardon from President Donald Trump.
"That is not true... Here's what I told the president: Guy Molinari sued to be a friend," Donovan said.
"You didn't say that right to my face?" Grimm asked.
"No. I didn't say that," Donovan said.
"You're lying," Grimm said.
While Trump is endorsing Donovan, Staten Island Republicans have Grimm leading by 10 points in the most recent poll.
"The fact that I had three delivery boys doesn't change their lives. You know what changed their lives: Me being there for Sandy. Me being there to pass national flood insurance," Grimm said.
"You can like somebody, but you don't want them representing you in Congress. You don't want someone making tax law who violated our tax code," Donovan said.
The one hour debate was clearly not enough time for the candidates to highlight their differences, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported. They'll be debating again Thursday night.
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