Democratic Congressmember-elect Max Rose hasn’t even been sworn into office yet and already potential Republican challengers appear to be gearing up to run against him in 2020.
Rose’s campaign sent out a fundraising letter warning of potential challenges from Michael Grimm or other Republicans. Grimm, the former congressmember, recently told the Staten Island Advance that he is leaving the door “wide open,” confirming reports that he is strongly considering a run.
Rose isn’t waiting for Grimm to make up his mind. He is busy lining up support. “Max hasn’t even been sworn in and the Republicans and special interests are already lining up to take him out. It truly speaks volumes about the absurdity of our broken campaign finance system that we have to get right back to asking folks like you to step up with a donation,” the fundraising letter reads in part.
In a clever detail, the letter requests a donation of $11.00, a nod to the fact that Rose will be representing the 11th Congressional District.
Rose, who defeated Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan in the 11th Congressional District (Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island) in November, becoming the first Democrat to win the seat in 10 years, will be sworn into office early next month at the start of the 116th Congress.
A Rose-Grimm match-up would be intriguing for many reasons. Both men are military veterans. Grimm, a former U.S. Marine, served during Operation Desert Storm. Rose, a U.S. Army veteran, earned a Purple Heart in Afghanistan in 2013.
Another name that has been mentioned in political circles as a potential Rose opponent is Republican Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, who represents a district that covers parts of Bay Ridge and Staten Island. She won re-election in November.
“There are always rumors and speculation in politics. Right now, my focus is returning to Albany in January, and advocating for Brooklyn and Staten Island. 2020 is two years away,” she told this newspaper.
Malliotakis had sought to run for the congressional seat in 2015, but halted her bid after Republican Party leaders made it clear they were backing Donovan.
Grimm held the seat from 2010 to 2015, when he resigned after pleading guilty to income tax fraud. He spent eight months in a federal prison.
Donovan, the former Staten Island district attorney, won a special election in 2015 to fill Grimm’s House seat. Donovan was re-elected in 2016.
Grimm tried to mount a political comeback earlier this year. He challenged Donovan in a Republican primary but lost by 30 percentage points. And then Donovan went down to defeat to Rose last month.
Grimm, who now works as a consultant, told the Staten Island Advance that in the weeks after the Nov. 6 election, he received numerous phone calls from members of the Staten Island Republican Party and people associated with Donovan’s campaign telling him he would have defeated Rose if it had been him, not Donovan, running in November.
Kevin Elkins, Rose’s campaign spokesperson, scoffed at the Grimm-Rose election talk.
“I know Michael has a lot of free time on his hands, but it’s a shame that he and others won’t even wait for Max to be sworn in before trying to take him out,” Elkins told this newspaper in an email. “But that shouldn’t be surprising as Max refuses to take money from federal lobbyists and corporate PACs which has pissed off a lot of people in Washington. So to those already contemplating running in 2020, Godspeed, but Max is focused on fighting for Staten Island and South Brooklyn.”