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DA in Eric Garner Case Looking to Replace Rep. Michael Grimm

Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, known for his role in the Eric Garner case, has quickly expressed interest in the race.
Michael Grimm
Rep. Michael Grimm (R- NY) speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in 2012.Jacquelyn Martin / AP file

Just hours after Rep. Michael Grimm announced his resignation from Congress effective January 5, the race to replace him has already gotten off the ground in the district that covers Staten Island and a portion of Brooklyn.

Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, most famous for his role in failing to produce an indictment of New York police officers over the killing of unarmed cigarette peddler Eric Garner, has quickly and aggressively expressed interest in the race. He said in a statement that he is “seriously considering the race," adding that his phone has been "ringing off the hook" with supporters urging him to run since Grimm announced his resignation.

David Laska, a spokesperson for the New York Republican State Committee, said that Donovan’s role in the Garner case will not create problems for Republicans trying to maintain control of the seat that President Barack Obama narrowly won.

“This is a federal election,” Laska said. “This is not going to be an election about New York City police policy.” Democrats, however, might try to make the race about Garner, especially if it motivates Democratic voter turnout.

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis is also considering a run on the Republican side, telling NBC News that she's "taking a serious look at the race." Instead of potential controversy, Malliotakis could offer diversity the Republican Party seeks. She is of Greek and Hispanic decent and is the only Republican woman representing New York City. And in the district that spans two boroughs that creates a contentious ideological divide, her Assembly district covers both Staten Island and Brooklyn.

Donovan is no political novice. He was elected to his post as district attorney in 2011 and he ran a failed bid in 2010 for New York’s attorney general.

The district favors Republicans. Grimm easily won re-election in November against sub-par candidate Dominic Recchia despite felony indictments hanging over Grimm’s head. After pleading guilty to a charge of felony tax evasion, Grimm announced his resignation.

There will be no primary election. The nominee will be anointed by the head of the Staten Island Republican Party in coordination with the state and national Republican Party.

On the Democratic side, the top two contenders include former Rep. Mike McMahon, who served one term in Congress but was beat by Grimm beat in 2010, and Assemblyman Mike Cusick.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee head, Rep. Ben Lujan, said Democrats "will have a candidate who will fight to grow the middle class and ensure the deck isn't stacked in favor of the special interests and the wealthiest few."

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will determine the date of the election to replace Grimm. If he chooses to call a special election, it must take place between 70 and 120 days from the date he calls for a special election. If he doesn’t call for a special election, an election will occur on Election Day in November.