War Vet Rose Looks To Challenge Donovan For Congressional Seat


In the spring of 2013, Max Rose (D) was leaving a small village in Afghanistan when the Stryker that carried him and his squadmate hit an improvised explosive device (IED). Hours later, the then-platoon leader was airlifted and brought to Kandahar Air Force Base where he received proper medical care. And while the candidate running for the 11th Congressional seat that serves Staten Island and parts of Southern Brooklyn said he never felt his injuries were life threatening, his conjuring of events led him to recall a moment when a partisan Congress worked together for a greater good.

“I’m a living testament that they can get something done down there,” said Rose, the recipient of a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. “It was the armor underneath my vehicle –– that’s the only reason I had it is because Congress finally got their act together.”

Rose is referencing a multi-billion dollar Congressional bill passed in 2010 to fund tactical vehicles along with body and vehicle armor. The veteran sees this legislation as an example of what Americans can look forward to with a bipartisan Congress.

Max Rose. Photo from his Max Rose for Congress website.

And while he lauded Congress generously funding the Department of Defense (DOD), he responded to what critics call, a bloated DOD budget.

“The Department of Defense, just like so many entities in the public and private sector, has waste,” said Rose. “If we can find some savings in the DOD and use that to fund infrastructure, that would be amazing.”

It’s 9:50 a.m. and the candidate hasn’t touched his black coffee since its arrival 15 minutes ago. By now, the robust conversation has turned personal to the sounds of David DeGraw’s “Not Over You” amid the clanking dishes and silverware in the Bay Ridge Diner, 8017 5th Avenue.

Engaged to Leigh Byrne, the 31-year-old Army veteran has lived in Staten Island for nearly three years, but has deep family roots throughout Brooklyn, and he went to school in Bay Ridge. He left the borough to study History at Wesleyan University and secured a M.S.C. in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics. The candidate comes from a long line of women scholars and educators, including his sister who just became the fourth generation woman in his family to earn a postgraduate degree.

Rose still serves as a Captain in the National Guard and is also Ranger qualified. After serving five years in the U.S. Army, he joined the office of the late Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, where he worked as a Special Assistant and Director of Public Engagement.

His media diet encompasses the Staten Island Advance, Foreign Affairs, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

Some of Rose’s platforms include universal health care, attention towards a fair share of  infrastructure in Staten Island and promises to combat an issue close to home — the ongoing opioid issue that has plagued Staten Island and parts of Southern Brooklyn.

Staten Island, the city’s smallest borough with a population of less than 500,000, saw 116 opioid-related deaths last year, a 57 percent increase from the previous year according to a report from the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene.

“We need an investment to the opioid epidemic that is similar in nature to what we did during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” said Rose. The candidate contends the solution is in proper education and medically assisted treatment that needs to be properly funded. Rose stops short to support safe injection facilities, however.

On the topic of juggling his responsibilities between Staten Island and Southern Brooklyn, the candidate said Brooklynites will be tired of seeing him. Rose intends to hold town halls in both boroughs, maintain a presence at local organizations and ramp up in-person and technologically-assisted constituent services. “I’m fighting for folks and I’m going to earn people’s support.”

Naturally the conversation led to the demographics of Southern Brooklyn and an inquiry on his thoughts of the current administration’s policies on immigration.

“What our President said during his campaign and the policies he has since implemented in regards to this are not only offensive, but they work against our national security,” said Rose. The candidate promises to work with everyone in the community and touts a support base of younger voters.

Crowdfunding has played a key role in the candidate’s attempt to raise money. The online platform also speaks to the type of voters the candidate has been able to secure. “We’re getting a lot of young folks involved,” said Rose. “I think, not only do we need a new generation of leaders in Washington, D.C., but we need a new generation of people getting involved in the political process.” Rose out-raised the incumbent U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan (R) by more than $100,000.

Rose said one of the best parts of the campaigning has been meeting so many new people who are already organizing. “When you think about this community –– it’s built on service to the city, to the state, the country,”said Rose.  “It’s because of their hard work that’s keeping the lights on, keeping us safe and keeping our children educated.”