It’s a re-max!
Former Democratic Congressmember Max Rose announced Monday that he is running again for his old seat, after losing it to incumbent Republican Nicole Malliotakis in 2020 following a single term in Washington.
In his campaign launch video, Rose noted that Americans are going through a multitude of simultaneous crises, including COVID-19, inflation and unaffordability, climate change, and gun violence.
He then says that those tasked with representing people’s interests amid crises are instead lying for their own political advantage, shown over footage of the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol — a clear shot at Malliotakis, who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s election victory based on bogus claims of voter fraud, even as a violent right-wing mob stormed the Capitol to try to overturn the election results.
“The alarm bells, they never stop ringing,” Rose said in his video. “And the people we trust to fix it, they divide us, they lie to us, tearing America apart just to hold onto power.”
Rose won his lone term as the Representative for Staten Island and part of southern Brooklyn (including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, and Gravesend) in 2018 as part of a national “blue wave” where Democrats won the House of Representatives. He narrowly beat incumbent Republican Dan Donovan to win the 11th Congressional District seat, the city’s only swing district.
In presidential races, the district voted for Barack Obama twice and for Donald Trump twice. The seat has had five holders in the past 12 years, with incumbents cycling through as partisan winds shifted or when they got indicted, in the case of Michael Grimm, and Rose’s hold on the seat was never secure.
The speculated death knell for his reelection campaign was when Malliotakis, challenging him for the seat, said that Rose was in favor of “defunding” the police after he attended a racial justice march following the murder of George Floyd.
Malliotakis, formerly an assemblymember and a 2017 candidate for mayor, heavily hammered Rose on the charge, and despite his fervent denials that he was in favor of such a policy (and campaign ads calling Bill de Blasio “the worst mayor in the history of New York City”), the Republican beat the Democrat in his 2020 reelection effort in a district home to scores of first responders.
Rose seemed to allude to the controversy in his video, saying that he campaigned publicly on his heartfelt beliefs instead of what would poll best.
“People tell me if I had listened to the polls, instead of doing what I thought was right, I would have won,” he said. “Maybe that’s true. But for me, some things are much more important than elections.”
After losing, Rose briefly mulled running for mayor but eventually decided against it, and became an advisor to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon.
In Congress, Malliotakis voted against Biden’s COVID relief package, the American Rescue Plan, and his Build Back Better social spending program, but was one of only 13 Republicans to vote in favor of the president’s infrastructure bill.
Before the Park Slope native can against face off against Malliotakis, he will have to win the Democratic primary. He’ll be facing Brittany Ramos DeBarros, a fellow combat veteran, an Afro-Latina, and a democratic socialist. DeBarros could not be reached for comment.
Another candidate, Mike DeCillis, dropped out last week after determining he didn’t have a path to victory.
The district’s fate could be heavily influenced by the outcome of New York’s redistricting process, depending on how the district’s boundaries are drawn. The state’s Independent Redistricting Commission currently has two map proposals, one favored by the IRC’s Democrats and the other by its Republicans. For New York-11, the Republicans’ map largely preserves the district’s borders as-is, while the Democrats’ map cuts out bits of Bay Ridge and most of Dyker Heights while adding Coney Island to the mix.
In a statement, Malliotakis said that the district had overwhelmingly rejected Rose in 2020 (in reality, she only won by 6 points), falsely said Rose had supported defunding the police and implementing bail reform (a state-level policy dating to the pre-pandemic era, which Rose had nothing to do with, though he did say he supported bail reform during his 2018 campaign), and argued without evidence that Biden’s policies had caused increases in crime and inflation and a crisis at the Mexican border.
“Last year, our community overwhelmingly rejected Max Rose because he was a rubber-stamp for Nancy Pelosi 96% of the time and supported the Defund the Police movement that slashed $1 billion from the NYPD’s budget and implemented dangerous policies like cashless bail that made our families and neighborhoods less safe,” Malliotakis said. “Since then, Rose has further embraced the most radical elements of his party. As an appointee of the Biden Administration, Rose has pushed Joe Biden’s disastrous agenda that has caused rising crime, run-away inflation, and a border crisis. He has even embraced the Biden-Pelosi $3.5 Trillion Socialist Wish List and applauded the cataclysmic withdrawal from Afghanistan that left 13 service members killed.”
Nonetheless, she said she would triumph against Rose and Nancy Pelosi’s “socialist agenda” (Rose voted against Pelosi for Speaker in 2019).
“As a Member of Congress, I have spent everyday fighting for my constituents, serving as their voice for commonsense leadership and holding the Biden Administration accountable,” Malliotakis said. “I am extremely confident that voters will support my record and once again reject Max Rose, Nancy Pelosi and their socialist agenda. Max Rose, you will be a two-time loser.”
This article has been updated to clarify Max Rose did support the passage of bail reform even though he was not involved in its passage.