GOP hopes to flip back Max Rose’s Brooklyn-Staten Island district
A political race this fall in the 11th Congressional District, covering Southwest Brooklyn and Staten Island, is part of the Republican Party’s drive to take back seats it lost to the Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections and has national ramifications.
In the aforementioned Brooklyn-Staten Island contest, Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis is expected to win her primary race on Tuesday against former prosecutor Joe Caldarera. The winner will face Rep. Max Rose, a Democrat.
Both Malliotakis and Rose have been endorsed by their parties’ national leaders. In September, Trump took to Twitter to announce his endorsement of Malliotakis for Congress. “Nicole has my Complete and Total Endorsement,” he tweeted.
Also in September, former Vice President Joe Biden, at that time merely one of several Democrats seeking the presidential nomination, endorsed Rose. “Staten Islanders and South Brooklynites deserve a representative who works as hard as them and that is Max Rose,” Biden said.
This 11th C.D. is one of three New York State districts in which Republicans hope to retake seats lost to Democrats. In the battleground 22nd Congressional District in central New York, Republican Claudia Tenney is looking for — if she wins the primary — a rematch against U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, who bounced her from office two years ago.
And in the Catskills and Hudson Valley, Republicans Ola Hawatmeh, a fashion designer from Poughkeepsie, and Kyle Van De Water, a lawyer and Army veteran, are vying to be the candidate who takes on freshman Democrat U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado.
Closer to home, dollars are already flowing into the race to unseat Rose, a centrist military veteran who won by nearly 10 points in 2018 in a district whose voters supported Trump by about 15 percentage points in 2016.
Malliotakis, who represents Brooklyn and Staten Island and unsuccessfully ran for New York City mayor in 2017, said voters want someone to stand up to “the socialists.” She said voters are tired of one-party rule and argued New York may be getting less federal COVID-19 aid than other states “because of our leadership.
“It’s been important for New York City to have one Republican voice in Washington,” she said. “Even if you’re a Democrat … there’s where you get productive negotiation.”
Caldarera, a former assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, claims both that Rose falsely portrayed himself as a centrist and that Rose has now lost credibility.
“A lot of people realize it, they were fooled, they were duped,” he said. And he called Malliotakis one of the “most left-leaning liberal Republicans within New York City.”
On her campaign website, Malliotakis, whose parents came to the U.S. from Greece and Cuba, stresses her work to help families rebuild after Superstorm Sandy to restore the B37 express bus service, which connects Manhattan to Bay Ridge.
“In the State Assembly,” she says, “I made New York a national model in the treatment of opioid addiction, expanded funding for senior programs and protected mental health services for our returning veterans.”
Rose, on his campaign website, stresses his record as former chief of staff for Brightpoint Health, a nonprofit healthcare organization that also operates food pantries and substance abuse programs, as well as his service in the U.S. Army, where he served as an active-duty officer in Afghanistan and earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
After his military service, Rose worked as director of public engagement and special assistant to the late Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.
In an interview with the Brooklyn Eagle after his first year in office, Rose said he was proud of his work to fund the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. In foreign policy, he said he supports the efforts of the U.S. and its allies to fight ISIS, and that he was a critic of the Obama administration’s foreign policy in the Mideast.
In general, he refers to himself as a “centrist populist,” and while he eventually voted to impeach President Trump, he was undecided for quite a while. He initially endorsed former Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the presidential race.
In local matters, Rose said, “We’ve secured over $10 million for the bus system on 86th Street (Bay Ridge) and a firm commitment from the MTA to prioritize the district in future capital plans.”
Malliotakis, according to another Eagle article, has fought a proposal from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to change the funding formula for senior citizens’ programs, a proposal that she said would have resulted in a $17 million cut.
She also submitted testimony to a recent hearing of the city’s property tax commission, arguing that New York City’s property taxes are too high and in need of revision. She is proposing a cap on property taxes.
In 2016, she served as New York State chair for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign. Before running for public office, she served as a community liaison for then-Gov. George Pataki and as a public affairs manager for Con Edison.
Malliotakis’ primary opponent, Caldarera, is running to Malliotakis’ right. He told the Eagle that he’s “a true conservative who has supported the president from the day he announced his election.” He also described her as a “flip-flopper” who was a “never-Trumper” when she ran for mayor but now supports the president when it’s advantageous to do so.
Caldarera also blasted Malliotakis for allegedly investing in Staten Island at Bay Ridge’s expense. While he’s from Staten Island, he said, “My mother’s from Bensonhurst and my father’s from Gravesend. I used to wait tables at L&B Spumoni Gardens during summers home from college. I was a Brooklyn prosecutor.”
One of his admirers is former Brooklyn Law School Dean Nicholas Allard, who said, “Joe Caldarera has the charisma, integrity and common touch to be a 21st century Republican version of Fiorello LaGuardia.”
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