The Republican leading the race to replace disgraced former-Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) is vowing to "untax" the country while expanding public transportation services dependent on taxes.


Dan Donovan, Staten Island's district attorney, suggested current tax rates are dragging down working class people and hammered his opponent, City Councilman Vincent Gentile, as a "tax-and-spend" Democrat.

“It’s a philosophy of helping the hard-working middle class and lower earners in our country. I want people to have more of their own money to spend," Donovan said on “The Cats Roundtable,” a radio program in New York hosted by John Catsimatidis. "My opponent is a tax-and-spend politician. I’m an untax-and-spend public servant. I want to untax people and let them spend their own money because they spend it better than the government spends their money.”

Asked of his top priorities if he wins the seat, Donovan vowed to fix a public transportation system he characterized as insufficient to meet the district's needs.

"All of the residents of the 11th congressional district suffer from not having enough transportation options. Everybody struggles to get back and forth to work [and] get their children back and forth to school," he said. "Traffic is horrible. Public transportation's not adequate."

The comments, which arrive amid a high-stakes budget debate on Capitol Hill, highlight the stark divide between the parties when it comes to government spending. House Republicans last week passed a 2016 spending blueprint designed to balance the federal budget in a decade, largely through steep cuts to domestic programs.

Their proposal includes roughly $55 billion for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development – about $1.5 billion above current levels – but sidesteps questions of how to replenish the highway trust fund, which expires at the end of May.

President Obama's 2016 budget request, by contrast, requested almost $65 billion for those agencies.

Democrats have hammered the Republicans' bill as "a disinvestment" that fails to provide the resources they say are needed to keep the economy afloat, including infrastructure and transportation funds.

"It turns a cold shoulder to our veterans and ignores our crumbling infrastructure," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last week.

Donovan this weekend also promised to help those residents still displaced following Hurricane Sandy, which devastated New York in 2012, and focus on protecting the homeland from terrorist threats.

"Terrorism is still targeting New York City," he said. "We’re still the No. 1 target in the world.”

Donovan is the heavy favorite in the May 5 special election to replace Grimm, who resigned in January after pleading guilty to one count of tax evasion. He faced 20 federal charges in all, including perjury and obstruction.

Donovan said he'll use the seat to bring a conservative voice to the otherwise Democratic delegation representing New York City – a bipartisan dynamic he said would benefit everyone.

“I will be the only Republican [representing New York City] at a time when both the House and the Senate are controlled by Republicans," he said. "I will serve Democrats, Independents, Republicans [and] conservatives equally well by being that one lone voice down there in the majority.”