Updated 10:30 a.m. | Voters in New York's 11th District will head to the polls on May 5 to elect a successor for former Rep. Michael G. Grimm, the Republican who resigned after pleading guilty to tax fraud last year.
Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo officially declared Grimm's seat vacant on Friday , setting off a roughly two-month scramble in this Staten Island-based district.
In lieu of a primary, party leaders within the district will choose their respective candidates.
Local Republican leaders have picked District Attorney Daniel Donovan as their nominee. Donovan was the prosecutor on the criminal charges filed after the death Eric Garner, who died after a New York City Police Department officer put him in a chokehold during an arrest outside a convenience store in Staten Island. The grand jury ultimately decided not to indict the officer.
It's unclear who will be the Democratic Party's nominee. The party's two front-runners — former Rep. Michael E. McMahon and state Assemblyman Michael Cusick — both took themselves out of the running.
Tom Feeney Jr., the executive director of the Staten Island Democratic Party, said Democrats will nominate either New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile, State Assemblyman William Colton or electrician and activist Robert Holst. All three have been interviewed, and the decision will come early next week, Feeney said.
No matter whom Democrats choose, a special election in this district will be an uphill climb for the party.
President Barack Obama carried the district in 2012 by a 4-point margin. But local politics — including the waning popularity of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat — will likely have an outsized impact on this special election.
Some Democrats even question whether the national party should spend any money in the race .
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