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Pro-Trump Super PAC Jumps Into Primary to Back Dan Donovan

America First Action is spending on direct mail and digital campaign

Rep. Dan Donovan, R-N.Y., is facing a primary challenge from former GOP Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Dan Donovan, R-N.Y., is facing a primary challenge from former GOP Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A super PAC aligned with President Donald Trump is coming to the defense of New York Rep. Dan Donovan, who is facing a Republican primary threat from his predecessor, former Rep. Michael G. Grimm

America First Action will spend $166,000 on direct mail, phone banking, and a digital campaign to support Donovan in the Staten Island-based 11th District, according to figures from the group. 

Trump endorsed Donovan late last month, noting the incumbent is best positioned to win in November. 

Grimm, who served jail time for tax evasion, has attempted to cast himself as the strongest Trump ally in the race. He was backed by the president’s former adviser Steve Bannon. But he has distanced himself from Bannon after Trump’s falling-out with his former adviser. Anthony Scaramucci, who was briefly White House communications director last year, also campaigned for Grimm. 

America First Action’s involvement in the primary signals that Trump’s allies are going to bat for Donovan. The group was founded by former Trump campaign staffers. Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer joined America First Action on Thursday as a senior adviser and spokesman.

Watch: Ready for the Midterms? Reactions to 3 Campaign Ads From Roll Call’s Editors

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Donovan is at a serious risk of losing to Grimm in the June 26 primary, according to a Republican source familiar with recent polling. A Siena College poll from earlier this month showed the former congressman with a 10-point lead over Donovan. 

The National Republican Congressional Committee added Donovan to its new “Primary Patriots” program in April, primarily assisting him with fundraising. The White House political team has also been assisting Donovan, and the Republican National Committee is helping with field operations, per a source with Donovan’s campaign. 

Trump carried the 11th District by 10 points in 2016. Democrats are targeting the seat, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already added Army veteran Max Rose to its Red to Blue program for promising challengers.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Likely Republican.

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