U.S. Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY, 11th District) leaves a press conference he spoke at after leaving Brooklyn Federal Court where he was indicted on 20 counts on April 28, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
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The GOP’s ‘Convict Caucus’ is struggling at the ballot box

The trio was labeled the “convict caucus”: three Republican ex-cons, two of whom recently served time behind bars, launched high-profile congressional campaigns this year, confident that voters would look past their criminal convictions.

The first was West Virginia’s Don Blankenship, who finished a distant third in a Republican Senate primary last month. The second was former Rep. Michael Grimm, whose comeback bid fell far short in New York yesterday, losing in a Republican primary to incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan.

Mr. Grimm had resigned his Staten Island seat in 2014 and pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion, serving seven months in prison. But not long after he was paroled, Mr. Grimm began plotting his comeback bid to unseat Mr. Donovan, the former Staten Island district attorney who had replaced him in Washington.

Mr. Donovan, 61, had the full weight of the Republican Party behind him. President Trump endorsed him; Donald Trump Jr. recorded a get-out-the-vote phone call; former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani held a rally; outside groups, including the United States Chamber of Commerce and a Trump affiliated super PAC, spent more than $1 million on Mr. Donovan’s behalf.

It was a notable case study in the limits of Trumpian style: though the president backed Donovan, seeing him as the more electable Republican, Grimm presented himself to voters as a Trump-like candidate, fighting to “make America great again.”

It didn’t work: as the dust settles, it looks like Grimm lost the primary by 28 points. Some recent polling suggested the incumbent was in real trouble, but it was wrong.

The only remaining candidate in the “convict caucus” is Arizona’s Joe Arpaio, whose Republican Senate primary isn’t until late August.

As for Donovan’s near future, the congressman was no doubt delighted with the primary results, but New York’s 11th district is considered quite competitive, and Democratic officials are excited about Army veteran Max Rose, who easily won a primary of his own yesterday.

Rose, a combat vet who served in the war in Afghanistan, has raised a fair amount of money, and is well positioned to seriously compete for the seat.

Postscript: Donald Trump, who still doesn’t quite appreciate the nuances of our electoral system, tweeted overnight that Donovan has been “elected” again. For the record, yesterday was a primary, not a general election.

Michael Grimm and New York

The GOP's 'Convict Caucus' is struggling at the ballot box