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Rose seeks rematch against GOP’s Malliotakis in New York

Starting with opposing Pelosi, the Democrat broke ranks often

Former Rep. Max Rose is running for the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who beat him in 2020.
Former Rep. Max Rose is running for the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who beat him in 2020. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former New York Rep. Max Rose announced Monday an attempt to return to Congress from a Staten Island-dominated district that may be redrawn to boost the Democrat’s chances. 

Rose, a blunt-spoken Afghanistan War veteran, was unseated last fall by Republican Nicole Malliotakis after a single term representing New York’s 11th District. His announcement video posted on Twitter opens with a video clip from his concession speech. 

“People tell me If I had listened to the polls instead of doing what I thought was right, I would have won,” he says in a voice-over. “Maybe that’s true. But for me, some things are much more important than elections.”

The video then cuts to news clips highlighting rising inflation rates, coronavirus-related school closures, floods, school shootings and the emergence of the omicron variant. Most of those are issues that Republicans think will hurt Democrats in the 2022 midterms, as the party seeks to hold on to a narrow House majority in the face of plummeting approval ratings for President Joe Biden and historical trends that disadvantage the party in control of the White House. 

The National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of the House GOP,  signaled Monday that it plans to tie Rose to those trends, calling him an “anti-cop” Democrat who will have “the impossible task of defending Democrats’ radical agenda of massive spending sprees, skyrocketing prices, open borders, and rising crime.”

“Staten Islanders rejected Max Rose and the Democrats’ socialist agenda in 2020 and they will do the same in 2022,” spokeswoman Camille Gallo said in a news release.

Often at odds

Rose, a moderate who was often at odds with his party during his time in Congress, attempted to turn the narrative in his announcement video with a subtle dig at leaders of both parties. In 2019 and 2020, Rose voted with his party 92.8 percent of the time, compared with the average Democrat’s 97.8 percent “party unity” score, according to CQ Vote Watch. In his first year in office, only 10 House Democrats had lower party unity scores. 

“The alarm bells, they never stop ringing,” Rose says in his announcement video, as it cuts to footage from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. “And the people we trust to fix it? They divide us, They lie to us, tearing America apart just to hold on to power.”

Such a critique is typical of Rose, who made a name for himself as someone  who was not afraid to take on party leaders. For example, one of his first acts as a new member in 2019 was voting against Nancy Pelosi for speaker, for example. He was also a fierce advocate for Democrats’ efforts to overhaul the nation’s voting, campaign finance and ethics and lobbying laws.

Republicans, nevertheless, attacked him as too progressive for his district, home to many New York City police and firefighters. The GOP seized on his vote to impeach President Donald Trump and his appearance at a 2020 protest march after the killing of George Floyd to paint him as anti-police. Trump carried the district by about 10 points in both the 2016 and 2020 elections, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections. Malliotakis, a former state legislator, beat Rose by 6 points last year. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — the campaign arm of House Democrats — signaled that it plans to attack Malliotakis for her votes against Democrats’ massive COVID-19 relief and social spending packages, as well as against Democratic initiatives to protect union organizers and to codify abortions rights. The latter is one that Democrats think will galvanize independent voters after the Supreme Court indicated its willingness last week to reverse the Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the United States. 

“In less than one year since taking office, Nicole Malliotakis has found countless ways to fail her own constituents,” DCCC spokesperson Abel Iraola said in a statement. “She’s voted against help for families, workers and small businesses, against labor rights, and against protecting reproductive rights. Voters on Staten Island and South Brooklyn can’t count on Nicole Malliotakis to deliver for them, and the end of her term can’t come soon enough.”

New maps expected

Draft congressional maps released in September by New York’s bipartisan redistricting commission left the 11th District largely unchanged, but Democrats in the state legislature are expected to reject those plans in favor of their own maps. The state is losing a House seat seat in 2022 to account for population changes since the 2010 census. 

Other Democrats have already announced campaigns in the district, including Brittany Ramos DeBarros, a Democratic socialist and Army combat veteran who has raised $350,000 and has the endorsement of the influential progressive group Brand New Congress. 

Rose is the second of the 13 House Democrats who lost their 2020 reelection bids to seek a rematch against the Republican who defeated him. Former California Rep. Harley Rouda was the first, launching a bid against Republican Michelle Steel. Former Iowa Rep. Abby Finkenauer is running for Senate and former South Carolina Rep. Joe Cunningham is running for governor.

Several other defeated House Democrats have seen state GOP lawmakers shore up their former seats for their Republican successors in redistricting.

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