The Staten Island prosecutor at the center of the Eric Garner case said Tuesday he is "very seriously considering" a bid for the congressional seat to be vacated by Rep. Michael Grimm, who pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion.
Daniel M. Donovan Jr. in a statement added that he is "deeply flattered by the enthusiastic expressions of support" he has received in the hours since Grimm announced late Monday that he would resign, effective Jan. 5.
Donovan, a Republican and a three-term Richmond County district attorney, would be a front-runner in the special election to represent Staten Island and Brooklyn's south shore, political observers say. Local officials from his party, including City Council Minority Leader Vincent Ignizio, have already begun to rally around him.
It's up to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to set a date for the special election.
A Donovan candidacy could "potentially" attract protesters to Staten Island, said political consultant Hank Sheinkopf, including those who participated in rallies against police brutality in the wake of the Dec. 3 decision by a Donovan-convened grand jury not to indict a police officer in Garner's death.
The congressional district up for grabs is New York City's most conservative corner.
"People need to understand Staten Island," Sheinkopf said. "The more protesters that come, the higher the turnout will probably be for Donovan."
Among other GOP names being floated are Assemb. Nicole Malliotakis, who told Newsday she is "seriously looking" at a run but wants to do what is best for her party, and state Sen. Andrew Lanza.
Possible Democratic candidates include former Rep. Michael McMahon and Assemb. Michael Cusick.
College of Staten Island associate professor of political science Richard Flanagan called Donovan "tough to beat."
Locally, the Garner case "didn't put one dent in his reputation at all," Flanagan said.
"He's kind of the dream candidate for Republicans," said political consultant Joseph Mercurio, adding that Donovan's countywide connections and campaigning chops would create a "difficult road" for a Democratic challenger. Donovan, formerly a borough president, could be further boosted if he plays up his support for police unions and mounts a campaign against the policies of liberal Mayor Bill de Blasio, Mercurio said.
Grimm, re-elected last November to a third term, pleaded guilty Dec. 23 to a federal tax charge. House Speaker John Boehner in a statement Tuesday said the former FBI agent had made "the honorable decision" to relinquish his seat.