Gov. Andrew Cuomo has scheduled a special election for May 5 to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, who resigned after pleading guilty to tax evasion.
Cuomo's announcement came days after a federal judge ordered him to set the date by noon Friday in a lawsuit brought by voters in the district, which comprises Staten Island and a slice of Brooklyn.
U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein said the congressman's resignation Jan. 5 left 750,000 residents in a 66-square-mile area "bereft" of an advocate before the government bureaucracy or a voice in Congress.
Grimm awaits sentencing in June. A former Marine and FBI agent, he made national headlines last year after telling a local cable TV news station reporter he wanted to throw him off a balcony in the Capitol for asking about an FBI probe into Grimm's campaign finances.
Republican Party leaders have chosen Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan as their congressional candidate. Donovan, the borough's top prosecutor since 2004, led the grand jury investigation into the police chokehold death of unarmed Eric Garner that resulted in no charges.
Donovan ran for state attorney general in 2010, losing to Democrat Eric Schneiderman, but kept his job as DA. He told the Staten Island Advance that he won't take a leave of office to run now either.
In a Friday statement, Donovan said he's looking forward to hearing directly from New Yorkers over the next few months. "We must have a representative in Congress who will fight for our transportation needs, continuing Sandy recovery and ensuring our city is protected from terrorism," he said.
Democratic Party leaders have interviewed potential candidates and are expected to announce their choice early next week. Three in contention are City Councilman Vincent Gentile and state Assemblyman William Colton, both from Brooklyn, and Robert Holst of Staten Island, an electrician active in IBEW Local 3, a party spokesman said.
Grimm, 44, pleaded guilty to a single charge in December from a 20-count indictment. He acknowledged sending his accountant underreported receipts and using the leftover money to pay employees off the books and cover other expenses while running a Manhattan health food restaurant.
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