Federal judge orders special contest to fill Grimm’s vacant seat on Friday
Orders special contest to fill Grimm’s vacant congress seat if Cuomo won’t set date
A federal judge says he’s going to set a date for a special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm unless New York’s governor does so by Friday.
Judge Jack Weinstein in Brooklyn announced his plan in a written decision Tuesday. He acted in response to a lawsuit brought by voters.
Grimm stepped down Jan. 5 after pleading guilty to tax evasion.
Attorneys for Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo told Judge Weinstein that the governor has discretion to delay a special election until the next general election in November.
Weinstein said that would be an unjustified delay.
He called the right to representation in government the “central pillar of democracy in this country.”
The lawsuit was brought by eight voters in the 11th Congressional District (Staten Island-Southwest Brooklyn), who charged that the governor’s delay in setting the date for a special election was unfairly leaving the constituents of the district without congressional representation in Washington, D.C.
Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa says the governor will announce the date for a special election shortly.
Weinstein’s decision is sure to add even more intensity to the hot race to succeed Grimm, as Democrats struggle to come to a final decision on who will be the party’s candidate.
The presumptive Republican candidate is Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, who sewed up the nomination quickly.
The leading Democratic hopefuls are both from the Brooklyn side of the congressional district.
Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst), is rumored to be the frontrunner and the favorite of Staten Island Democratic Party leaders. But Assemblymember Bill Colton (D-Gravesend-parts of Bensonhurst) has made no secret of his desire to run.
Sources close to Gentile told the Brooklyn Eagle that party leaders have made it clear to the council member that the nomination is his if he wants it. Gentile, who has served in the council for nearly 12 years, is a former state senator whose Senate district included parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island, just as the congressional district does.
Gentile is giving the congressional race careful consideration, however, sources said. “He wants to look before he leaps,” one person told the Eagle.
Both Gentile and Colton were recently interviewed by the Staten Island Democratic Organization whose county leader is John Gulino.
Colton is boasting that he has emerged as the clear choice of Brooklyn Democrats, pointing to the fact that he is being supported by seven of the 10 Brooklyn Democratic district leaders.
Colton, who has won 10 elections to the New York state Assembly, said he is being supported by a number of elected officials, including City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Councilmember Mark Treyger and Assemblymember Felix Ortiz.
Kevin Peter Carroll, Democratic district leader of the 64th Assembly District (Bay Ridge-State Island), one of the distict leaders in Colton’s corner, said he would be an ideal candidate.
“Assemblyman Colton has spent nearly two decades continuously fighting for the people of Southern Brooklyn. The issues he has [been] working on are extensive, including lowering taxes for working men and women, closing the illegal incinerator in Gravesend Bay, fighting to make sure a harmful waste transfer station is not placed on the site of the former incinerator, and organizing grassroots community clean-ups. These issues show all of us the type of congressman he will be,” Carroll said.
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