The Campaign Spot

Will the Garner Case Dominate Staten Island’s Special House Election?

Voters on Staten Island face some big unresolved questions as Rep. Michael Grimm’s resignation date approaches.

For starters, just when will the district hold its special election for a replacement?

Mr. Grimm’s resignation means that a special election for Congress must be held. But we don’t know when yet. Under the rules, the election must be held 70 to 80 days after Mr. Cuomo declares the House vacancy.

Logically, Mr. Cuomo would declare the vacancy the instant Mr. Grimm’s resignation becomes effective, which would lead to a special election being held sometime in mid- to late March.

But with special elections costing the state an estimated $1 million to conduct, it’s possible that Mr. Cuomo might decide to forgo a separate election for Congress in the spring and instead fold the House balloting into the November general election.

The next big question is who each party will nominate — and under New York State laws, no primaries will be held. The local party selects its nominee, although individuals can “campaign” for the job. Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakisformer Borough President James Molinaro and District Attorney Daniel Donovan have expressed interest in the job on the GOP side. Democrats are expected to nominate State Assemblyman Michael Cusick, although former Rep. Michael McMahon expressed interest in the job

Whoever wins the special election would serve through January 2017, and presumably run for reelection to a full term in 2016.

Donovan, of course, is the prosecutor who failed to convince a grand jury to indict police officers in the death of Eric Garner. It’s easy to imagine progressives across the country making Donovan the scapegoat for the grand jury’s decision, and dumping resources into the race to help the Democrat. Locals insist Donovan is held in high regard in the community.

The district, which includes Staten Island and a little bit of Brooklyn, scores R+2 in the Cook Partisan Voting Index. Despite a federal indictment for tax fraud, Grimm won reelection in November, 55 percent to 42 percent.



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