Republican state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis has beaten first-term Democratic Rep. Max Rose in a New York House district that spans from Staten Island to South Brooklyn.
Rose’s fate has a long history in New York’s 11th District, where a Democrat hasn’t won back-to-back congressional races since the 1970s. The race was Republicans’ only real shot at winning back a House seat in New York City this year.
Malliotakis, a 39-year-old who ran for mayor against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) in 2017, has represented the district in the state Assembly for nearly a decade and has long been cast as a rising star in New York’s Republican party.
Until 2015, the district was represented by Republican Michael Grimm, who resigned from Congress after pleading guilty to a tax evasion scheme connected with a restaurant he owned prior to becoming a congressman. Malliotakis was among the names floated to run in his place, but she opted not to.
Instead the seat was filled by Republican Dan Donovan, whom Rose, a 33-year-old Army combat veteran and health care executive, defeated in 2018 as part of the blue wave that gave Democrats a majority in the House of Representatives.
Rose’s centrist politics and abrasive political style seemed to fit with the district, but Malliotakis effectively painted him as just another New York City Democrat, too liberal for the whiter and more conservative district. Republicans tied Rose to self-described democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.) and de Blasio, who is deeply unpopular in the district.
Malliotakis said her run was to “stop socialism” and “save America.” Malliotakis’ ads featured local law enforcement and Thin Blue Line flags, and highlighted Rose’s decision to participate in Black Lives Matter marches.
Rose tried to counteract Republicans’ narrative by releasing a six-second ad in which he said, simply, “Bill de Blasio is the worst mayor in the history of New York City. That’s the whole ad.”
Rep. Max Rose, a Democrat running for reelection in Staten Island, with a digital ad: “Bill de Blasio is the worst mayor in the history of New York City. That’s the whole ad.” pic.twitter.com/mZrR5XW0BE
— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) September 9, 2020
In another, he supported Trump’s killing of high-ranking Iranian military general Qassem Soleimani and balked at rallying cries to defund the police.
“When my country went to war in Afghanistan, I put on the uniform,” Rose said in the ad. “When Bill de Blasio tried to defund the police, I stood up and said it was 100% wrong. And I stood with President Trump when Democrats attacked him for killing an Iranian terrorist. Because when you kill American soldiers, we kill you.”
Trump won Staten Island by 17 percentage points in 2016, and remains popular there. When she ran for mayor, Malliotakis tried to distance herself from the president, saying she regretted voting for him, but when it came time to run for Congress, she changed her tune and emphasized Trump’s endorsement of her.