Democrats Wade Into GOP Primary Waters, Anticipating Rose/Malliotakis Battle

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) waded into GOP waters last week arguing in a press release that Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis’(R-Bay Ridge, Staten Island) presumed Republican Congressional primary win was “not locked up” following a controversy over whether President Trump had truly endorsed her or not. 

U.S. Rep. Max Rose (D-Southern Brooklyn, Staten Island) currently holds the seat and the DCCC is putting in a lot of time, money and effort to keep the battleground district in Democratic hands. 

Max Rose
U.S. Rep. Max Rose
Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis

The cross-party political maneuver stems from Malliotakis being invited to the White House signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which she had defended in an op-ed. According to her, the President there promised his full support and endorsement. His campaign however had no comment to later follow-ups from the Staten Island Advance

Her only remaining Republican opponent is 27-year old prosecutor Joseph (Joe) Caldarera, whose team claimed Trump’s staff was unaware of an endorsement. 

“Malliotakis knows her primary isn’t hers to win, and she’s feeling the pressure,” the DCCC wrote on the endorsement confusion. “At the end of last week, the NRCC added her primary opponent Joe Caldarera to their Young Guns’ “On The Radar” list, another sign that this primary is not locked up for Malliotakis.”

“This comes as Malliotakis, who has a record of anti-Trump comments and said she regrets voting for Trump in 2016 because his policies are ‘not good,’ is struggling to prove herself to Trump’s base,” the committee, tasked to elect Democrats to Congress, wrote in a press release

Malliotakis had backed Marco Rubio over Donald Trump in 2015 and has described herself as a “pragmatic moderate” during her run for Mayor in 2017. 

According to their last filings, Malliotakis has $723,491 on hand compared to Calarera’s mere $83,091. The Assemblywoman also raised a total of $1,063,125 compared to her opponent’s $107,849. 

“They are trying to hurt our fundraising by promoting the primary scenario,” said a member of Mallotakis’ campaign. “We have the support of GOP & Conservative Party organizations in both boroughs and have raised more than 10 times the money of Joe Caldarera. He still has to get on the ballot. So we are confident the Assemblywoman will be the nominee.”

But the Caldarera campaign seconded the fact the Trump administration has not made an endorsement in the primary.

“We have had conversations with senior Trump political staff that say that this endorsement has never happened,” said Woodrow Johnston, a strategist on Caldarera’s campaign. “We’ve never spoken with anyone at the DCCC, but their read on this is correct that it’s a competitive primary.”

The winner of the Republican primary on June 23 will get to challenge Rose (NY-11) in the general election, a seat spanning Staten Island and southern Brooklyn that has been controlled by Republicans for most cycles prior. 

“Nicole Malliotakis is a former lobbyist and Washington insiders’ handpicked candidate. Somehow, she thinks she’s the right Republican to take on a public servant who is fighting corruption and shaking up the status quo in Washington,” said DCCC Spokesperson Christine Bennett. (Malliotakis worked on government relations for ConEdison, but previously denied the lobbyist label.)

“Just like any Republican candidate running for Congress, when Nicole Malliotakis lies, we’re going to hold her accountable,” said Bennett.

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