SOUTHERN BROOKLYN — Democratic U.S. Rep. Max Rose, who rode into Congress on the Blue Wave that swept Democrats into the majority in the House of Representativestwo years ago, officially launched his re-election bid on Saturday, touting his political independence as he runs for a second term in a congressional district that Republican President Donald Trump won by double digits in 2016.
“We didn’t get things done by kissing up to the establishment. We got things done by going to war with it,” Rose told a crowd of 600 enthusiastic supporters at his campaign launch event at the Vanderbilt on South Beach on Staten Island.
New York’s 11th Congressional District, which Rose represents, takes in the entire borough of Staten Island and several neighborhoods in Southwest Brooklyn, including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Gravesend.
“We showed the world what politics can be when no one owns you. When you tell corporate PACs and lobbyists they can keep their damn money, when the only people you answer to are right here on Staten Island and South Brooklyn,” Rose told his supporters.
Rose, a U.S. Army combat veteran who earned a Purple Heart in Afghanistan, is a member of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers who work together on issues.
“So when someone says you can’t work with both parties to improve your community, we’re proof that’s bullshit. Because when the special interests don’t own you, when you do what’s right, not just what’s best for your party, you get stuff done,” Rose said.
As he launched his re-election campaign, Rose also sought to highlight his efforts to help constituents on both sides of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge.
One of the speakers who introduced Rose at Saturday’s rally was Betty James, president of the Marlboro Houses Resident Association in Gravesend.
“Staten Island is often called the forgotten borough. But Brooklyn, especially Marlboro Houses, often feels like the forgotten part of the district. Not with Max. Max never stops fighting for us. It doesn’t matter what party you are from. Max has our back and I’ve got his,” James said.
Rose successfully pushed for the United States Postal Service to install new parcel boxes at the Marlboro Houses after it was discovered that regular mailboxes were broken. Rose also pushed the New York City Housing Authority to keep a popular manager in place rather than transfer the manager to another NYCHA development.
The race in the 11th C.D. is shaping up to be one of the most closely watched House contests this year due largely to the fact that the presidential race will be looming over it.
Rose’s presumptive opponent, Republican Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, has been busy raising money and meeting with GOP leaders in Washington D.C.
Malliotakis, who represents parts of Bay Ridge and Staten Island, has frequently touted her support of Trump.
Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 11th C.D. by 10 percentage points, 54 percent to 44 percent.
Malliotakis said she is ready to take on Rose.
“In the 13 months since Congressman Max Rose took office he’s supported far-left schemes like bail reform, closing Rikers Island and sanctuary cities that put all law-abiding New Yorkers at risk. Couple that with his support of two-way tolling on the Verrazzano Bridge, his voting with Nancy Pelosi 98 percent of the time and his dragging of feet on job creating legislation like the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement and you have a portrait of an elected official who has done more to hurt his constituents than to help them. Max Rose has had his chance and now it’s time to send him packing,” she told the Home Reporter in an email.
Trump’s presence at the top of the Republican Party’s ticket this November could help Malliotakis down-ballot. But the voters of the 11th C.D. have voted for Democrats in the past presidential contests. Barack Obama won the district in both 2008 and 2012.
While Malliotakis has earned endorsements from the executive committees of both the Brooklyn and the Staten Island Republican parties, she still has to win a primary in order to secure the GOP nomination to run against Rose.
Her primary opponent is Joseph Caldarera, a former Brooklyn assistant district attorney.
A campaign spokesperson for Rose disputed Malliiotakis’ contention that the congress member supported New York State’s controversial bail reform law.
In fact , it was the opposite, according to the spokesperson, who pointed out that in December, even before the bail reform law took effect, Rose led a bipartisan group of House members in calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature to make changes to the law.
On the issue of closing Rikers Island, Rose opposes any plans to construct new jails on Staten Island, according to his campaign.