It was the slugfest on Staten Island.
Republican Congressman Dan Donovan duked it out with his Democratic challenger, veteran Max Rose, on Tuesday night in an hour-long forum that featured sharp exchanges over the opioid crisis, health care and President Donald Trump.
The debate came just a day after fundraising figures showed that Rose raised nearly five times the money as Donovan in recent months, another sign of swelling Democratic enthusiasm as the midterm elections near.
“I don’t understand what the point of having you in the majority if we’re going to be targeted for additional taxes. I don’t get this,” Rose charged, attacking Donovan over the GOP’s deeply contentious $1.5 trillion dollar tax cut that capped state and local tax deductions used by many New Yorkers at just $10,000.
“Because we wouldn’t have gotten the $10,000 cap if it wasn’t for my negotiations,” replied Donovan, who voted against the bill when it came up for final passage.
“If your party wasn’t in the majority, this never would have happened in the first place,” Rose fired back.
That exchange was one of the most heated of the NY1 forum at the College of Staten Island – CUNY, which was the first and likely only prime time broadcast debate between the two men.
Like so much of American politics, much of the debate — just like the election — largely centered on President Donald Trump and his policies and behavior since taking office.
Donovan continued to strongly stand by Trump, who won the borough during the 2016 election but is politically toxic in many other parts of the city.
Trump and his family provided a key assist for the longtime pol during his fiercely contested primary battle against his predecessor, Congressman-turned-convict Michael Grimm: the president tweeted an endorsement and his son, Don Jr., recorded a robocall for the incumbent.
“The economy is booming and it just started in the last 17 months when this man took office,” Donovan said, claiming Trump’s policies triggered the near-decade long economic expansion.
While there’s been no polling in the race recently, the debate offered proof that the president — or at least his rhetoric — remains popular as Rose attempted to leverage Trump’s “drain the swamp” mantra into an attack on Donovan.
“When Donald Trump was talking about draining the swamp, he was talking about Dan Donovan,” Rose said.
The debate started hot as Donovan and Rose hammered each other on their campaign donors. The incumbent blasted Rose for accepting help from the national Democrats and claimed his out-of-district donations were proof the veteran was a carpetbagger.
“Those people have no interest in this community other than influencing who represents the people out there,” Donovan said.
Rose fired back, taking aim at donations Donovan received from major corporations like Verizon and Koch Industries, which is controlled by the controversial duo of David and Charles Koch.
“If you want to see the horrendous effects, the toxic nature of transactional politics, you need to look no further than (Donovan’s) FEC reports,” Rose charged.
The state of play in the race to represent the 11th District, which covers Staten Island and a portion of southern Brooklyn, remains unclear. There has been no recent public polling, but political observers say that Donovan likely has a narrow lead.
But fundraising figures released this week show Rose will be able to compete through Election Day.
The Afghan vet nearly quintupled Donovan’s cash haul from July through September, raising nearly $1.5 million compared to the former Staten Island DA’s measly $342,000. The congressman has just $277,000 in the bank.
Read the full article here.