Malliotakis declares victory in race for 11th congressional district, Rose refuses to concede

Congressional candidate Nicole Malliotakis thanks poll workers at Fort Hamilton High School’s polling site in Bay Ridge on Tuesday.
Photo by Paul Frangipane

Republican Nicole Malliotakis has declared victory over Democratic incumbent Max Rose in the contentious congressional race in Staten Island and southern Brooklyn’s 11th District, though Rose has refused to concede. 

Malliotakis won more than 56 percent of in-person votes (136,382) in the swing district on Tuesday night, with 97.9 percent reporting. Rose claimed approximately 42 percent of the in-person vote (99,224).

The Republican challenger defeated the incumbent on both the Staten Island side, and in the Brooklyn sections of the district, which include Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and Gravesend.

On the Rock, she garnered 52 percent at 126,061 votes, compared to Rose getting just north of 40 percent with 97,328 votes, according to state Board of Election figures.

Malliotakis’ lead was narrower in southern Brooklyn, where she earned 47 percent, at 29,293 votes, while Rose got just under 44 percent, at 27,196 votes.

Malliotakis declared victory shortly after 10 pm with a margin of about 37,000 votes, and slim chances of Rose catching up. Elections officials have processed around 24,000 absentee ballots from registered Democrats in the district — meaning that for Rose to close the gap, he would need to rake in more than 13,000 absentee votes in addition to those 24,000 ballots.

And that doesn’t take into account the 2,088 absentee ballots processed so far from registered Republicans, or the possibility that many absentee voters did not vote in the congressional race.

Elections officials are still working to process the mail-in ballots received over the last two days, and will begin counting the absentee ballots on Nov. 9. 

But, from outside of LiGreci’s Staaten on Forest Avenue in Staten Island, Rose did not concede.

“We came in tonight saying we may not know a winner at the end of this evening, and that is still the case,” he said. “At this moment there are more than 40,000 absentee ballots that were returned, with potentially 10,000 more in the mail,” Rose said in his remarks.

“I know my opponent will join me in ensuring that the Board of Elections must conduct a fair and transparent process that demonstrates the strength of our democracy, not undermines it,” he added.

Rep. Max Rose and his wife Leigh hold off on conceding the race, determined to count all the votes.Photo by Rose Adams

Meanwhile, from a tent behind her Staten Island headquarters, five-term Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis said her victory would “resonate from New York’s City Hall to the halls of Congress,” and slammed the city and state’s Democratic leaders for underestimating and misunderstanding the district.

“They don’t understand the voters of the 11th congressional district; they are good and decent people who can’t be bought and won’t tolerate being lied to,” she said of representatives like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “We have returned the 11th Congressional District to the hands of the Republican and Conservative Party. Thank you for your support and making this victory a reality.”

The heated race for the 11th congressional district was among the most-watched in the country, as freshman Rose, a Democrat, fought to hold onto his post in a district that voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump in 2016.

A Staten Island native, Malliotakis was first elected to the state assembly in 2010 to represent East New York and New Lots. Since 2012, she has served as assemblywoman in the 64th District covering northeast Staten Island and a sliver of Bay Ridge. Malliotakis ran against Mayor Bill de Blasio on the Republican ticket during his reelection campaign in 2017.

In a recent interview with Brooklyn Paper, Malliotakis said that some of her proudest achievements include the restoration of local and express bus service in southern Brooklyn and Staten Island, her successful efforts to strip pensions from elected officials who were convicted of crimes, and her work to help the district recover and rebuild after Superstorm Sandy.

Rose, a Park Slope native, served in the armed forces for five years and earned a Purple Heart in the War in Afghanistan after his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device, injuring him. He served in New York’s National Guard before successfully running for congress in 2018, narrowly beating Republican incumbent Dan Donovan.

Rose said that in his two years in office, he’s most proud of a bill he co-sponsored that would permanently renew funding to the Victim’s Compensation Fund, which provides aid to victims of the 9/11 attacks. He also touted his bill that puts sanctions on foreign pharmaceutical companies that produce the majority of the country’s illicit fentanyl, and his efforts to mitigate COVID-19 in his district, which saw the first COVID-19 testing site in the city and a COVID-19 treatment center he helped build.

During her campaign, Malliotakis boasted endorsements from law enforcement groups like the Police Benevolent Association, the Detectives Endowment Association, and the Sergeants Benevolent Association. She was also backed by the New York Post, the League of Humane Voters and New York State Patriots for Life, among other groups.

Malliotakis Tuesday credited support from almost every major police union for helping put her over the top.

Malliotakis embraces Staten Island Republican County Chairman Brendan Lantry shortly after declaring victory.Photo by Todd Maisel

While some worried the race might be too close to call, Malliotakis’ parents — Greek immigrants George and Vera Malliotakis — had the utmost confidence in their daughter, and stood proudly nearby to watch her proclaim victory.

“It was a beautiful night and we had all the confidence in her. I’m very proud of her,” her father beamed. “Whatever I am today is because of her and that’s the best there is.”

Additional reporting by Todd Maisel and Kevin Duggan

Correction [Nov. 4]: A previous version of this article said that the Board of Elections will begin counting absentee ballots on Nov. 6. The actual date is Nov. 9. We regret the error.