STATEN ISLAND, N.Y., May 6 (UPI) -- Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan has won the seat of former Republican Rep. Michael Grimm who resigned after pleading guilty to tax fraud in a special election.
Donovan was the special prosecutor assigned to investigate the chokehold death of Eric Garner by the police last year. He won the election with nearly 60 percent of the vote for the 11th Congressional District, which covers Staten Island, N.Y., and parts of Brooklyn.
Donovan, 58, is the only Republican from New York City in the House of Representatives.
"You sent a message to President Obama, to Nancy Pelosi and, yes, even to Bill de Blasio, that their policies are wrong for our nation," Donovan said in his victory speech. "They're wrong for our city and they're wrong for the community of the 11th Congressional District."
The election was held under rare circumstances due Grimm's resignation and to the unease about the Garner case, which sparked large-scale racial tension.
Garner, a 43-year-old African American, was an unarmed when he died after a police officer placed him in an apparent chokehold last July. His death, and a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer who killed him, sparked nationwide protests in December.
Donovan's opponent for the election, Democrat Vincent Gentile, conceded defeat.
"Unfortunately, tonight, we fell short of that ultimate goal,"Gentile, a Brooklyn councilman, said.
"From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here, thank you for helping with this campaign. I am humbled by the confidence you have shown in me," he said.
Neither candidate discussed the Garner case often. Donovan defended the way his office handled the case by stating the grand jury was managed properly, but expressed sympathy for the Garner family.