House Speaker John Boehner, who reportedly pressured Congressman Michael Grimm to announce his resignation early this morning, said he still appreciated what Mr. Grimm, a fellow Republican, brought to the table in his brief, chaotic tenure as Staten Island’s representative in Washington.
“Rep. Grimm made the honorable decision to step down from his seat in Congress,” Mr. Boehner said in a statement today. “I know it was made with the best interests of his constituents and the institution in mind, and I appreciate his years of service in the House.”
Mr. Boehner was likely being diplomatic. Hailing from deep blue New York City and perpetually a distraction for the Republican establishment, Mr. Grimm saw national Republicans distance themselves from him after he was indicted on tax evasion charges in April and pleaded guilty to a single felony charge a week ago.
Cut off from the national party, Mr. Grimm still comfortably won re-election against Democrat Domenic Recchia Jr., professing his innocence throughout the race. But Mr. Grimm pleaded guilty after winning in November, vowed not to resign the day of the plea and promptly resigned anyway.
Mr. Boehner is known to have little tolerance for ethical lapses among his own members and Mr. Grimm may have faced expulsion from the House if he refused to resign. Beyond his guilty plea, Mr. Grimm seized headlines for threatening to throw a NY1 reporter off a balcony, allegedly having sex in a bar bathroom and pulling a gun at a nightclub when he was an FBI agent before his time in Washington.
Mr. Grimm’s departure will mean a special election for the Staten Island and Brooklyn-based 11th Congressional District. Though President Barack Obama won the district in 2012, it is still far more conservative than the rest of the city and the Republican candidate in the low turnout special election is likely to carry an edge, observers say.
On the Republican side, Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan is a favorite to win the Staten Island Republican Party’s backing, sources say. Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and State Senator Andrew Lanza are two other top contenders for the GOP nod.
Democrats are said to favor Assemblyman Michael Cusick, though Mr. Grimm’s Democratic predecessor, Michael McMahon, is also floating himself as a candidate.