Last week, Congressman Max Rose demonstrated that he doesn’t have any political backbone when he folded like a cheap suit after it was reported that he had a primary opponent. After over a year of obfuscation on his position, Rose gave in to the pressure of the radical left to join the impeachment drive against President Trump.
During his town hall meeting Rose announced that he now “fully supports” impeachment after proclaiming one week earlier that he would “not let politics guide his decision.” However, this is exactly what he did.
Just last month, he wrote an op-ed explaining why he did not want to go down the impeachment road. He said, “I fear the Democratic Party is now at risk of…a bait-and-switch mistake by focusing on impeachment instead of infrastructure, healthcare costs, and putting people to work with livable wages and benefits…pursuing a partisan impeachment process won’t address any of those serious issues. The truth is impeachment will only tear our country further apart and we will see no progress on the enormous challenges we face as a nation.”
What changed? On October 1st the Staten Island Advance, which covers most of the congressional district, reported that Richard-Oliver Marius planned to challenge Rose in a primary. He is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America who would come from the left against Rose because of the freshman Congressman’s opposition to impeachment. The very next day Rose announced his support for impeachment at his town hall event.
Now, Oliver-Marius says he is leaning towards ending his primary challenge. Mission accomplished for Rose.
In addition, several progressive left organizations throughout the district had been attacking his anti-impeachment position and threatened to withhold their support. In late August, Fight Back Bay Ridge, a far-left organization, held a protest rally outside of Rose’s Brooklyn district office demanding that he support impeachment. Their simple message to Rose was to support impeachment or lose their support.
Rose had been trying to walk a tightrope to continue the moderate image he has potrayed, while not upsetting the far-left wing of his party. In addition to withholding his support for impeachment until now, he has bit his tongue in standing up to the “The Squad,” a group of four Congresswomen elected in 2018 that includes Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), Ayanna Presley, and Rashida Tlab.
For example, Rose refused to join the call for Omar (D-MN) to be removed from the Foreign Affairs Committee because of her anti-Semitic record, which includes saying that support for Israel in the United States, was “all about the Benjamins, baby.” He was also tepid in his response to her comments that the terrorist attacks of 9/11was simply an event in which “some people did something.”
Throughout his campaign and early tenure in Congress, Rose has claimed to be an independent and not afraid to stand up to his Democratic leadership and others in his party. This has now been proven to be demonstrably false.
The political question is will there be enough support from the AOC wing of the party that he pandered to with his new impeachment position to offset the loss of Republicans and Independents that filled in the oval for Rose in 2016. Obviously Rose believes the answer is yes.
Southwest Brooklyn, which encompasses about a third of the congressional district, has become even more Democratic since I served as the Director of former Congressman Vito Fossella’s Bay Ridge office. He represented this area from 1997-2009.
Data from the past eight congressional elections in the district from 2004 through 2018 shows GOP candidates average 45% of the Kings County vote, while garnering 55% from Staten Island. Last year incumbent GOPer Dan Donovan received only 39% of the vote in Brooklyn, while running neck and neck with Rose in Richmond County.
Any Republican must overcome this huge disadvantage in Brooklyn, but the party’s standard bearer next year will have less of an uphill climb to take back the seat across the Verrazano, which has always been more GOP friendly. Significantly, President Trump won Staten Island 57%-40%.
Rose is hoping his current impeachment stance will increase his vote margin in Brooklyn to ensure a second term. However, Republicans see his support for impeachment and alignment with Nancy Pelosi and “The Squad” as a betrayal to the independents and GOPers that believed he was really a moderate, especially in Staten Island.
Will Rose’s victory in pacifying the left and avoiding a primary be the cause of his general election loss?
Bob Capano has worked for Brooklyn Republican and Democratic elected officials. Follow him on twitter @bobcapano.