Dan Donovan, the Staten Island district attorney who chose to convene a grand jury that decided not to indict a white police officer in the chokehold death an unarmed black man, announced Friday that he is running for Congress. Donovan, a Republican, is seeking the seat formerly held by Michael Grimm, who resigned last week after pleading guilty to federal tax fraud charges.
Donovan, who unsuccessfully ran for New York state attorney general in 2010, said he decided to enter the race after receiving support from people outside of the Staten Island-based congressional seat, which also includes a sliver of Brooklyn, according to the Staten Island Advance. His announcement came a week after he said he was “very seriously considering” running for Congress.
"Accordingly, please consider this my formal announcement that I will be seeking the endorsements of the Republican, Conservative, and Independence Parties in the upcoming Special Election for the 11th Congressional District of New York," Donovan said in a statement, according to the Advance. "I expect the selection processes of those parties to commence sometime in the near future and will only comment further in due course after those party processes have taken place."
Since the congressional race will be a special election, the Democratic and Republican parties will decide who gets on the ballot. Donovan is facing competition from Nicole Malliotakis, a GOP state assemblywoman who is being supported by former New York Gov. George Pataki. The Staten Island and Brooklyn congressional district is heavily Republican.
But Donovan is considered the front-runner for the Republican nomination and has the backing of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, according to the New York Post. Giuliani said he endorsed Donovan in part because a grand jury didn’t indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner last summer. Giuliani dismissed the idea that the Rev. Al Sharpton can influence the race by protesting Donovan’s candidacy on Staten Island.
“You want Dan to win by a bigger landslide? Send Al Sharpton to Staten Island,” Giuliani said, according to the Post. “People on Staten Island know what a racial arsonist he is. We can only hope that Sharpton will oppose him.”
The grand jury’s decision not to indict Pantaleo set off a wave of protests in New York City and beyond. Unlike the contentious fatal shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, there was video of Garner, who was heard repeatedly shouting, “I can’t breathe.” Protesters in support of Garner adopted the slogan during their demonstrations.