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New York GOP mulling ways to push Michael Grimm off Nov. ballot

Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., leaves a press conference he spoke at after leaving Brooklyn Federal Court where he was indicted on 20 counts on April 28, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Andrew Burton, Getty Images

New York Rep. Michael Grimm's arrest and indictment Monday on charges including tax fraud and employing illegal immigrants has put the state's Republicans in quite a bind: They risk losing Grimm's Staten Island district to a Democratic challenger if Grimm runs in November, but the deadline for primary challengers to qualify for the ballot has passed.

As a result, Republicans in the state are weighing an unorthodox contingency plan, according to the Wall Street Journal: Nominate Grimm for another office, such as an open judicial post, to allow someone else to replace him on November's congressional ballot.

Simply ceding Grimm's seat to the Democrats, though, is not an option they're prepared to consider.

"I'm not saying it's gotta be Michael Grimm but to have a Republican in Congress from New York City is really important," Ed Cox, chairman of the New York Republican State Committee, told the newspaper.

Though it may be their only viable option, the ballot swap may not even be a possibility for Republicans hoping to retain Grimm's seat. State Island GOP Chairman John Antoniello, the man responsible for nominating people to judgeships, said he's not sure there will be a suitable vacancy before November, and that he might not nominate Grimm even if that changed.

"Let's say I do agree to that, which I'm not saying I would, there's no judgeships open," he said. "There's no judgeships that I know of on the ballot."

Grimm, who represents a swing district, was already facing a stiff reelection challenge from Domenic Recchia, a former New York City councilman. And with Monday's 20-count indictment, which focuses on the management of a Manhattan health food restaurant Grimm owned before he entered Congress, that climb became even steeper.

Grimm has maintained his innocence, vowing during a news conference on Monday to "fight tooth and nail until I am fully exonerated." And his team has given no sign that he plans to step down or forego his reelection bid.

"Let me be very clear: The congressman is not abandoning his post or the hardworking people he represents and he is absolutely running for re-election. Period," a spokesman told the Journal.