Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan has made it official: he will seek the seat vacated by disgraced Representative Michael Grimm, who resigned on January 5 after pleading guilty last month to one count of felony tax evasion.
In a statement, Donovan said, “Last week I announced that I would seriously consider running for the vacant Congressional seat in the 11th Congressional District of New York. I made that announcement after a 24 hour period in which my phone never stopped ringing with expressions of enthusiastic support from elected officials, party leaders, and residents of Staten Island and Brooklyn. I said then that after due deliberation I would make my decision.
“In the week since my last announcement the enthusiasm for my candidacy has only broadened and intensified, with expressions of support also from beyond the two boroughs.
“Accordingly, please consider this my formal announcement that I will be seeking the endorsements of the Republican, Conservative, and Independence Parties in the upcoming Special Election for the 11th Congressional District of New York. I expect the selection processes of those parties to commence sometime in the near future and will only comment further in due course after those party processes have taken place.”
Donovan, a Republican, has key backing from Staten Island GOPers in his quest for the seat in the 11th Congressional District, which encompasses all of Staten Island and a portion of southwestern Brooklyn from Bay Ridge through Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst to Gravesend.
However, Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, who currently represents both boroughs, is also interested in the nomination, and she has won the support of Brooklyn GOP Chair Craig Eaton as well as Brooklyn Conservative Party Chair Jerry Kassar.
On the Democratic side, the roster of potential candidates includes two Staten Islanders — Michael McMahon who formerly held the seat but was defeated by Grimm and Assemblymember Michael Cusick — as well as two Brooklynites, City Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who once represented a state Senate district that encompassed portions of the two boroughs, and Assemblymember William Colton, who represents Bensonhurst and Gravesend.
Political insiders believe that candidates who hail from Brooklyn start out at a disadvantage, as Staten Island represents approximately 70 percent of the district. The Republican Grimm, while facing a 20-count federal indictment, easily defeated Democrat Domenic Recchia, a former city councilmember who had represented Bensonhurst and Coney Island.
Grimm’s replacement will be chosen in a special election which has not yet been called by Governor Andrew Cuomo, but insiders have suggested that it would likely take place this spring. The candidates will be chosen by their respective parties; no primary will take place.