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 like he did before.
Democratic Party leaders have interviewed some potential candidates but haven't announced anyone. Party officials didn't return calls Friday.
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis had initial Republican backing in Brooklyn to run for the congressional seat. She's now supporting Donovan, saying she's confident he'll win in a district where Republicans often do well despite lower party enrollment.
One reason she wanted to run was to push for federal reforms of insurance programs for flood-prone areas, Malliotakis 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.