Republican New York State Attorney General candidate Dan Donovan delivers his concession speech after losing to Democrat Eric Schneiderman during the New York State GOP election eve festivities, Nov. 2, 2010 in New York.
Photo by Stephen Chernin/AP

Eric Garner prosecutor formally enters NY congressional race

Dan Donovan, the Staten Island district attorney who failed to obtain an indictment of New York police officers for Eric Garner’s death, has formally announced that he will run for the seat to replace Rep. Michael Grimm.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 12/30/14, 9:15 PM ET

Fossella eyed to replace Grimm despite two-family scandal

Steve Kornacki reports that a strong candidate to replace Michael Grimm to represent Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn in Congress is Vito Fossella, who left office after a drunk driving arrest exposed that he was keeping two families.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, Donovan said enthusiasm for his candidacy “has only broadened” in the past week, persuading him to run for the Republican nomination.

The news comes one day after another potential Republican challenger, New York Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, met with the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee in Washington.

After the meeting Malliotakis told NBC News that she was “encouraged” and would “continue to explore and go through the process” of obtaining the nomination.

An aide at the NRCC said Rep. Greg Walden, the head of the organization tasked with electing Republicans to Congress, spoke on the phone with Donovan earlier in the week and was “impressed.”

Donovan’s entry into the race will draw attention to Republican Party’s image when it comes to race issues, as Democrats would likely make the Garner case an issue should Donovan win the nomination.

The NRCC said it would back either candidate.

“Both Dan Donovan and Nicole Malliotakis would be excellent candidates in the eventual special election and we look forward to working with whichever one ends up securing the Republican nomination,” spokesman Ian Prior said.

WATCH: Should Eric Garner protests end after NYPD killings?

The New York Daily News has reported that Donovan is backed by the head of the Staten Island Republican Party, a critical component of gaining the nomination. Malliotakis is supported by the Brooklyn head of the Republican Party, who is not as influential in the nominating process.

Grimm resigned from his seat this week after being indicted for felony tax evasion.


Eric Garner, Michael Grimm and New York

Eric Garner prosecutor formally enters NY congressional race