Over the weekend, Richmond County GOP Chair John Antoniello announced that he had chosen Staten Island D.A. Dan Donovan to be his party's nominee for the as yet unannounced special election for the now vacant NY-11 seat. And yes, It's New York, one man can make that call all by himself. Technically, the Kings County GOP has a say here as well, but not really. This is Staten Island's call and the man with the power to do so just did. It's Donovan and he's going to easily beat anyone the Dems nominate to challenge him. Sad but true.
Antoniello ignored the hand wringing from the DC GOP (they were floating the name of Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis) about Donovan, most recently in the news for failing to indict a cop for choking a citizen to death on a Staten Island street, all caught on camera. The national Republicans are very worried that nominating the D.A. in the Eric Garner case could nationalize the race in ways that really aren't good for them.
And they're right. It will. It will not be a good thing for the Republican brand nationally. But it won't matter a lick in NY-11.
Donovan, in full Brer Rabbit mode, is already warning Dems not to make the Eric Garner case an issue in this race, but they will and they should. Simple moral decency demands that they should. Donovan failed to get any measure of justice for the family of one of his constituents for a crime that was captured all too gruesomely on tape for the whole world to see.
But what the national Republicans don't understand about Staten Island (and Donovan obviously does), or perhaps, don't wish to publicly acknowledge, is the fact that Donovan's involvement in the Garner case is a bonus, not a hindrance. Dan Donovan will profit from it and he'll win in a walk because of it.
A special election is being called to fill the seat that corrupt shitbag Michael Grimm had to resign after pleading guilty to felony tax evasion. Just two months ago, Grimm, despite facing a 20 count federal indictment, crushed hapless no-terribly-smart-guy Dominic Recchia by 13 points.
Grimm held that seat for two terms after beating really lame Dem Michael McMahon. McMahon won because the previous incumbent, Vito Fossella, flamed out after a DWI bust lead us to the discovery that he was hiding an entire other family that no one knew about.
There was a time about a decade ago when Staten Island kinda flirted with being swingy. It was a brief, but it was real. Those days are long over though. The final nail in that coffin came with the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Richmond County has been trending hard red for some reason (black president) ever since.
Just a few months ago, Michael Grimm, a man facing a 20 count federal indictment who would go on to win by double digits, was flooding the airwaves with one of the most racist TV ads I'd ever seen. The ad name checked Al Sharpton, (a direct reference to the Eric Garner case and Sharpton's planned march across the Verrazano Bridge) "protesting the NYPD" and "de Blasio's plan to put government housing in our neighborhoods." He won going away.
And so will Donovan. It doesn't matter who the Dems nominate (and their bench ain't exactly deep in this district). Donovan's failure to indict anyone for the death of Eric Garner isn't baggage in Staten Island. It's a badge of honor.
And it will propel him all the way to Congress.
That's just a fact.
Originally posted at The Albany Project.
(image via nyc.gov)