Republican Dan Donovan easily won a special election in New York's 11th District Tuesday night, solidifying his role as the successor to disgraced ex-Rep. Michael G. Grimm.
The Staten Island district attorney defeated his Democratic opponent, New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile, 58 percent to 41 percent, with 72 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press. With his victory, the seat stays in GOP hands.
Democrats have sought to pick up the Staten Island-based district since Grimm first won the seat in 2010.
The district is competitively drawn; President Barack Obama carried it by a 4-point margin in 2012. But Democrats picked lackluster candidates and Grimm won re-election twice.
Grimm even skated to re-election in 2014, when Democrats spent millions to try and oust him following his indictment for tax evasion .
When Grimm resigned from Congress in January following his guilty plea, it ostensibly gave Democrats a shot at picking up the seat. Yet the unpopularity of Mayor Bill de Blasio in Staten Island, coupled with low turnout in a special election, led national Democrats to sit the race out .
As a result, a number of top-tier Democratic recruits passed on a bid , and the party settled on Gentile as its nominee.
With no support from national Democrats, Gentile struggled to raise cash for his bid and was never considered a contender to defeat Donovan — a well-known figure in the borough.
Donovan was thrust into the national spotlight when a grand jury in Staten Island declined to prosecute a police officer accused of using excessive force that led to the death of Eric Garner.
With the special election now behind them, Democrats say they will target Donovan in November 2016 — when he'll face re-election for the first time.
First, Democrats must find a top-tier recruit.
After picking two candidates from the small sliver of Brooklyn that makes up a fraction of the district, Democrats will almost certainly look for a recruit from Staten Island — which makes up the lion's share of the district.
Democratic operatives say the party will likely look toward the district's former Rep. Michael E. McMahon, state Assemblyman Michael Cusick or state Sen. Diane J. Savino to run in 2016.
The November 2016 race is currently rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.
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