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Army Vet Max Rose to Challenge GOP Rep. Dan Donovan

Trump won New York district by 10 points in November

Army veteran and non-profit health care executive Max Rose said he wants to confront a system that he says is “riddled with unfairness.” (Courtesy Max Rose)
Army veteran and non-profit health care executive Max Rose said he wants to confront a system that he says is “riddled with unfairness.” (Courtesy Max Rose)

Max Rose became the fifth Democrat take on GOP Rep. Dan Donovan Wednesday, but he says his economic message will set him apart from the primary field.

“I’m running because I’m fed up,” Rose, a Staten Island resident, said in an interview. The 30 year-old Army veteran says he will focus on an economic message, and addressing a system that he says is “riddled with unfairness.”

Rose’s message could appeal to voters in New York’s 11th District who supported President Donald Trump — he won the district by 10 points in November, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections. Former President Barack Obama won the district by 3 points in 2012.

Donovan is the only Republican to represent the New York City area. He won a 2015 special election for the seat, following GOP Rep. Michael Grimm’s resignation after he pled guilty to tax evasion. Donovan was elected to a full term in 2016 by 26 points.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates race in the 11th District, which encompasses Staten Island and South Brooklyn, as Solidly Republican.

Donovan’s seat was one of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s initial targets for 2018. Democrats are hoping to make gains in New York as they look to flip 24 seats to win back the House.

Rose said his message of working to fix an unfair economic system would resonate with voters of both parties in the district who are frustrated by stagnant wages as the rich get richer.

“I am running as somebody who is going to commit his life to fixing this,” Rose said. “That’s what people care about. Party affiliation is a distant second.”

Rose also referenced his military experience when explaining his decision to run for office, noting that he witnessed young people sacrificing for their country. He served in Afghanistan in 2012 and 2013, earning a Purple Heart when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

Rose is now chief of staff for Brightpoint Health, a nonprofit health care provider in New York City. He said his experience has helped him understand the complex health care issue, and said more must be done to lower overall costs.

Donovan was one of 20 Republicans to vote against the House GOP’s bill to repeal and replace parts of Obamacare, known as the American Health Care Act. Donovan said in a statement that the bill would lead to a tax increase for his constituents, and lead to higher costs for seniors.

But Rose said Donovan’s vote against the AHCA was not sufficient.

“Voting against that bill was low hanging fruit. What I still haven’t seen from Dan Donovan is a plan,” Rose said. He later added, “What we needed from Dan Donovan was the courage to lead to not only vote no but to make sure that a bill like that is never passed.”

Donovan did recently lay out his ideas to improve the health care system, which included repealing the individual mandate, negotiating drug prices, and increasing the amount that can be contributed to health savings accounts, in a Medium post.

Rose is now the fifth Democrat to jump into the primary. The other candidates include Mike Decillis, a former police officer who is now a special education teacher; Michael DeVito, Jr., a former Marine who runs a non-profit; Boyd Melson, a former professional boxer who is part of the Army Reserves; and bond trader Zach Emig.

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