N.Y. Governor Cuomo sets date for special congressional election

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 20, 2015 12:12 PM

By Daniel Wiessner

(Reuters) - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday ordered a special election to be held in May to fill the seat vacated by a Staten Island congressman who pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion, hours before a deadline set by a federal judge.

The election to replace former Rep. Michael Grimm is scheduled for May 5, according to an order issued by Cuomo's office. New York's 11th Congressional District includes the New York City borough of Staten Island and parts of the borough of Brooklyn.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein in Brooklyn ordered Cuomo to set an election date by noon Friday in a lawsuit filed by district residents who said they had been disenfranchised by the vacancy.

New York's governor has broad discretion to set special election dates, and Weinstein's decision was a rare example of a judge reining in that power. Weinstein had said he would choose an election date if Cuomo did not.

Grimm, a Republican, stepped down on Jan. 5, days into his third term and about two weeks after admitting to filing a false tax return in connection with a health food restaurant he co-owned before his political career.

Republicans have settled on Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan as their candidate. Donovan attracted national attention last year when he handled grand jury proceedings that did not yield an indictment against a city police officer who killed an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, with a chokehold.

New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile and state Assemblyman William Colton are among possible candidates being considered by local Democratic leaders.

Cuomo's order also set a May 5 election date to fill a vacancy in the state Assembly left by Friday's resignation of Assemblyman Karim Camara of Brooklyn, who is joining the Cuomo administration.

(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner; Editing by Toni Reinhold)