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10 Races to Watch in 2016: New York’s 11th District

Grimm faces a trial in February. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Grimm faces a trial in February. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., pled guilty Tuesday to one count of federal tax evasion but refused to resign his seat, creating chaos in this Staten Island-based district even before the 114th Congress is sworn in.  

Grimm is scheduled for sentencing on June 8, and whether he’ll see jail time remains to be seen. But no matter his punishment, calls for his resignation have already begun.  

If the calls grow stronger and Grimm still refuses to resign, Speaker John A. Boehner has the power to bring a vote of expulsion to the floor and let Grimm’s colleagues vote on whether he should stay in Congress.  

The last time the House expelled a member of Congress was 2002 , when the late Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, was convicted on a number of bribery and tax evasion charges. Such a public admonishment by the House has only taken place five times in history.  

If the Staten Island-based district does become vacant before Grimm’s term expires in November 2016, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sole discretion for if and when to have a special election to fill the vacancy.  

In that event, party leaders from the counties within the district get a weighted vote to determine their nominees.  

Former Rep. Michael A. McMahon, the Democrat Grimm ousted in 2010 to first win the seat, says he is being recruited to run and has not closed the door on the possibility of a bid .  

State Assemblyman Michael Cusick is also mulling a bid, according to the New York Observer .  

No matter the Democratic nominee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will heavily target the district, both for a pick-up and redemption.  

The DCCC spent millions this cycle blasting Grimm on his legal woes in the hopes of winning back the seat, only to see their nominee, former New York City Councilmember Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., lose by a stunning 13-point margin. Voters described the choice as the lesser of two evils , as media appearances in the final days of the contest painted Recchia as an inarticulate politician with a poor understanding of the issues.  

On the Republican side, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and state Sen. Andrew Lanza are mentioned as possible candidates in an open-seat race.  

Editor’s Note: Over the next two weeks, Roll Call will unveil its Top 10 Races to Watch for 2016. The final edition will run Jan. 2 with the full list. In no specific order, other races to watch in 2016 include Illinois Senate and Pennsylvania Senate
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