John Catsimatidis—the oil and supermarket billionaire and former Republican candidate for mayor—told the Observer yesterday he hopes to fund-raise for GOP Congressional candidate Daniel Donovan, even though he supported a Democrat for the same seat last year.
Talking at the grand opening celebration at Mr. Donovan’s Brooklyn campaign office, Mr. Catsimatidis said that he had already contributed the highest allowed amount—$2,700—to the Staten Island district attorney’s House bid and planned to help him secure further financing.
“I’ve already donated the maximum, and if we can raise him more money, if he needs it, we’ll get it for him,” Mr. Catsimatidis said, adding that no events have yet been scheduled. “Whatever he needs, we’ll get it for him.”
The Gristedes magnate and several members of his family gave heavily last year to the campaign of Democratic former Councilman Domenic Recchia Jr., who unsuccessfully sought to unseat then-Congressman Michael Grimm, a Republican. Mr. Grimm resigned in January after pleading guilty to a federal income tax evasion charge, setting up the current special election contest between Mr. Donovan and Democratic Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile.
Mr. Catsimatidis, a former registered Democrat with close ties to the Clinton family, said he backed Mr. Recchia because the Democrat had supported several development-friendly rezonings in his former Brooklyn Council district, where Mr. Catsimatidis hoped to build a large luxury residential building. He also cited Mr. Grimm’s support for his 2013 Republican primary rival, Joseph Lhota.
“Grimm didn’t endorse me. Right? It’s very simple. You support your friends. Do you support Domenic Recchia, that was very helpful in business and development in that area, or do you support the guy who supported your opponent?” he said.
He said he is backing Mr. Donovan in the May 5 special election because he believed he would be an independent voice in the majority Republican conference.
“Washington is broken. We need people in Washington with trust, integrity, common sense, besides,” he said. “We can’t have a Congress of robots. We have to have people with the ability to represent their districts and who can do and say, be able to stand up and be counted.”
Mr. Lhota was also present at the party, and praised Mr. Donovan’s record as former deputy borough president of Staten Island and as the district attorney with the highest conviction rate in the five boroughs.
“Dan Donovan is the most, a very dedicated individual. I’ve known him for 25 years, he’s all about constituent services, all about serving the people,” Mr. Lhota told the Observer. “He did it when he was in the borough president’ office, he’s done it for the last 12 years as district attorney.”
The Republican prosecutor became nationally famous after a grand jury he impaneled decided not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the homicide of black Staten Islander Eric Garner.
Mr. Gentile, for his part, last week had a fund-raiser on the Upper East Side with Mayor Bill de Blasio and Councilman Benjamin Kallos.