Staten Island is home to a swing district at the presidential level, but that same district leans Republican in other races, and for the last several decades Democrats have not been able to make inroads, try as they might. The Republican bent of Staten Island (the district also includes a small part of Brooklyn) is why Grimm endlessly linked his last opponent to the New York City mayor — a strategy that proved effective. After all, he won despite being under indictment.
And it’s why de Blasio — as well as the Eric Garner case — could be a big factor in the special election, which will come in the next months.
This is the district, after all, where Garner was choked by a police officer and later died. It’s also the rare part of New York City that doesn’t really like the Democratic mayor, who has inflamed New York City police by appearing too sympathetic to the Garner protesters. A recent poll pegged de Blasio’s approval on Staten Island at 25 percent, with 58 percent disapproving. City-wide, he was in positive territory, at 50 percent approval and 32 percent disapproval.
Another key data point (referenced above): de Blasio won his 2013 race by a whopping 49 points but still lost Staten Island to Republican Joe Lhota.
The Staten Island Advance has a look at possible candidates, which notably includes Daniel Donovan, the Staten Island District Attorney who was involved in the Garner case and failed to secure an indictment against the police officer. Republican sources have called him the clear front-runner, and he said in a statement that he is “very seriously considering the race.” (There will not be a typical primary, as party leaders pick their nominee for the race instead.)