Rep. Michael Grimm leaves Federal court in Brooklyn after pleading guilty to a federal tax evasion charge rather than go to trial next month, Dec. 23, 2014, in New York.
Photo by John Minchillo/AP

Why the race to replace Michael Grimm matters

As the new Congress gets underway, the House of Representatives was going to have 435 members for the first time in a while, but Rep. Michael Grimm’s (R-N.Y.) recent felony conviction has interfered. The New York Republican, easily re-elected two months ago, will resign his seat today.
 
And for those obsessive campaign watchers feeling a little withdrawal since the midterms, that’s arguably good news – the race to place Grimm is likely to be a doozy.
Daniel M. Donovan Jr., the district attorney in the controversial police chokehold case on Staten Island, appears poised to run for the seat in Congress about to be vacated by Representative Michael G. Grimm, and may face several adversaries if he does.
 
Mr. Donovan, who impaneled the grand jury that cleared a police officer in the July death of Eric Garner, said in a statement on Tuesday that he was “very seriously considering the race.”
The fact that Donovan’s handling of the Garner case generated national attention – and his failure to secure an indictment – makes his likely congressional campaign that much more notable.
 
There are a variety of other Republicans who’ve expressed an interest in the race, but the New York Daily News reported over the weekend that Donovan has effectively “wrapped up the Republican nomination.”
 
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has not yet announced when the special election will be held, but we already know there will be no primary – the parties will choose their respective nominees by way of a convention.
 
Republican officials will apparently not have to choose between Donovan and former Rep. Pete Fossella (R), who used to represent this district, right up until the public learned that the conservative Republican lawmaker had a secret second family, separate from his wife and kids in New York. This came to light after a DUI charge in Virginia that led to some jail time.
 
Fossella was rumored to be interested in a possible comeback in light of Grimm’s resignation, though the former congressman announced a few days ago that he’s passing on the race.
 
And what of the Democrats? The DCCC had high hopes for this race in 2014, though the party’s top recruits bowed out, reluctant to take on Grimm, even after his 20-count felony indictment. The party eventually backed Domenic Recchia, who struggled as a candidate and lost badly.
 
Democratic recruiting efforts are likely to be a little easier in an open-seat special election, and former Rep. Michael McMahon (D), who held the seat between Fossella and Grimm, has said publicly that he’s “definitely taking a look” at the race.
 
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), who’s been quite outspoken of late on issues related to law enforcement, has taken a personal interest in the U.S. House race and is backing Donovan’s campaign.
 

Eric Garner, Michael Grimm and New York

Why the race to replace Michael Grimm matters