Brooklyn prosecutor Joe Caldarera organizing run for Brooklyn/SI congressional seat
Nicole Malliotakis is the early favorite to challenge Democratic Congressmember Max Rose for his Staten Island and Bay Ridge Congressional seat, as only a convicted felon and a man best known as a notorious YouTube figure have expressed a desire to challenge her in the Republican primary.
However, a member of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, Assistant DA Joseph Caldarera, has resigned from his job and is exploring the possibility of launching a formal campaign next month, he told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
The news was first broken by Zachary Cohen of the National Journal.
Malliotakis, an assemblymember who represents parts of Bay Ridge and Staten Island, was the Republican nominee for mayor in 2017; she lost to Bill de Blasio, the incumbent Democrat, 66.5 percent to 27.8 percent. Despite the landslide victory by de Blasio, the election did raise Malliotakis’ profile.
Caldarera, who was born and raised in Staten Island and attended Monsignor Farrell High School, is poised to run to Malliotakis’ right and told the Brooklyn Eagle that he is strongly against impeachment and that he is the only candidate for the seat who truly supports the president.
“I’m a true conservative who has supported the president from the day he announced his election,” Caldarera told the Brooklyn Eagle. “I think that Staten Island wants a true conservative, and South Brooklyn wants a true conservative to be the nominee to go up against Max Rose. I think I’m the conservative constituent’s choice for Congress.”
In the same article that announced his intentions, Caldarera blasted Malliotakis as a flip-flopper who only supports President Donald Trump when it’s politically advantageous for her to do so.
“They [voters] see her as a flip-flopper, someone who talks a lot but doesn’t get anything done,” Caldarera told the National Journal. “Someone who when [she] was running for mayor against Bill de Blasio was a never-Trumper. And now when she’s running for Congress on Staten Island, she supports Donald Trump and all of his policies. It’s funny how things change over the course of a year.”
Caldarera confirmed that he resigned from the District Attorney’s Office, where he served in the Special Victims Bureau, on Friday.
Currently, he’s still gathering backers and trying to raise money before he officially launches the campaign in November. He stressed that he doesn’t want to be seen as a mere spoiler in the race and says that he has a real opportunity to unseat a Democrat in a district that Trump won in 2016.
“My goal is not to be loyal to myself, but to be loyal to the people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn with a focus on passing meaningful legislation,” Caldarera told the Eagle. “It’s not about ego, it’s about getting the job done. If I thought there was a Republican candidate who could beat Max Rose, I’d stay out of this race. But personally, I haven’t seen any indication that there is anybody in this race who is going to beat him.”
Caldarera explained that while impeachment is a big issue for him, one he insists he will not budge on, he’s hardly a one-issue politician and plans to do as much as he can on issues such as autism awareness.
“I’ve got three cousins who are autistic that I’m pretty close to, so that’s one important issue for me,” Caldarera said. “Staten Island has one of the highest rates of autism in the country and I want to find out why that is. Is it the environment? Is it genetic? Either way, it’s a crisis.”
The now-former prosecutor, and son of a police lieutenant, also said that he sees himself as a law-and-order politician who has promised to support law enforcement officials while in Washington.
“I’ve been a prosecutor and I understand a lot of what goes on in the streets of New York,” he said. “I’ve proposed some realistic solutions to solving a lot of the problems that plague us — crime, mental illness, poverty and things like that are what I’m looking forward to tackling.”
Caldarera is a political neophyte but has been an active member in the local legal community for years now. He first came to the Eagle’s attention in 2016 when he was president of the Brooklyn Law School Italian-American Student Association and organized an event at which the group honored Chief Judge Janet DiFiore.
Caldarera then joined the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and has been an active member of the Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn since his graduation from law school.
“Joe Caldarera has the charisma, integrity and common touch to be a 21st century Republican version of Fiorello LaGuardia,” said Nicholas Allard, the former dean at Brooklyn Law School. “His virtual reincarnation of the best virtues of New York’s former mayor, the Little Flower, was my first and is my lasting impression of Joe, from the time he arrived at Brooklyn Law through his service as a prosecutor with the Kings County District Attorney’s office.”