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Rep. Nicole Malliotakis Featured in New York Times

Αssociated Press

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, speaks at the Staten Island Republican Party headquarters in the New Dorp neighborhood of Staten Island, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in New York. (Alexandra Salmieri/Staten Island Advance via AP)

NEW YORK – Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis was featured in the New York Times on Feb. 2 as the only Republican elected to Congress from the five boroughs and for her actions as a new member of the House of Representatives.

When she “voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud, constituents and local Democrats protested outside her New York office,” the Times reported, adding that “an editorial in her local paper, the Staten Island Advance, said she ‘let America down.’”

On Feb. 1, “a new political action committee- NICPAC, or Nicole Is Complicit PAC- raised more than $20,000 within four hours of launching its website,” the Times reported, noting that Malliotakis’ victory against the incumbent Democrat, Max Rose, was largely due to “her allegiance to former President Donald J. Trump, who endorsed her,” and she “has continued to stand firm with the former president’s base, even if that means leaving others behind.”

“She said her loyalty was to New York’s Republicans, but especially to the narrow, conservative pocket of New York City- a swath of Staten Island and a portion of Brooklyn- that made her the only Republican elected to Congress from the five boroughs,” the Times reported.

“There’s more of a burden on me now to hear their voice,” Malliotakis, 40, said in an interview, the Times reported. “They want someone who is going to fight to be better, who is going to bring their perspective to the forefront, who is going to push back when policies are being proposed that will hurt them or cost them money or make their lives miserable.”

Malliotakis’  approach “could alienate the majority of New York voters, overwhelmingly Democratic, whom she needs to rise to higher office — or it could cement her place in New York politics as a rare Republican voice,” the Times reported, noting that “though there are more registered Democrats on Staten Island, which makes up the majority of Malliotakis’ district, Republicans registered far more new voters during the Trump administration than Democrats did, creating an invigorated, Trump-loving base that Malliotakis plays to.”

In order to win reelection in 2022, Malliotakis could face challenges as “congressional districts will be redrawn following the results of the 2020 census,” the Times reported, adding that “New York could lose up to two congressional seats, decreasing its representation in the House from 27 people to 25, according to a prediction by Election Data Services, a political consulting firm.”

Malliotakis represents New York’s 11th District, which “will likely extend further into Brooklyn or into Lower Manhattan, picking up more Democratic voters and putting her seat in jeopardy,” the Times reported.

Some residents “are already plotting for her removal,” the Times reported, adding that “NICPAC officially launched on Monday, establishing itself as a bipartisan watchdog organization of constituents both outraged over her decertification vote and disappointed in her lukewarm response to the Capitol riot.”

Malliotakis had issued a statement condemning the rioters and thanking law enforcement officers.

Jonathan Yedin, a Democratic political operative and founding member of NICPAC told the Times that “the group plans to buy ads and conduct outreach to Malliotakis’ constituents, in order to ‘keep her accountable,’” adding that “some of us voted for her, some of us didn’t, but we’re all united in the message that she’s unfit to serve, given her actions.”

Dan Hetteix, host of Radio Free Bay Ridge, a progressive politics podcast based in the 11th District, told the Times that Malliotakis “had to try to secure her base to fend off opposition.”

“She needs to keep these new voters engaged in a ticket that doesn’t have Trump on it anymore,” Hetteix said, the Times reported. “She needs to make the most of Staten Island’s red voters. The more she can whip them up, the more she can resist whatever redistricting does to her.”

Malliotakis “defended her vote not to certify the presidential election results in a tweet,” the Times reported, “I voted against certification of the two challenged states not to ʻoverturn an election’ but to highlight need for a proper hearing into unconstitutional rule changes, irregularities and alleged fraud”… “I swore an oath to the Constitution and REFUSED to turn a blind eye.”

“Peers find her ambitious, hardworking and sharp, and she has positioned herself as the antidote to the state’s far-left politicians,” the Times reported, adding that “the congresswoman has even joined the ‘anti-socialist squad,’ to counter a fellow New York representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and ‘the Squad.’”

Malliotakis “is as much against unauthorized immigration and universal health care as she is in favor of strengthening bail laws and protecting father-daughter dances,” the Times reported, noting that “some local Democrats say that she’s a reactionary ideological flip-flopper.”

“She is someone who has changed everything she’s believed in every time she’s ever run for office,” Kevin Elkins, a longtime adviser to Max Rose, told the Times.

Mark Murphy, a local businessman and former Democratic congressional candidate in the district, said that “he wants Malliotakis to move to the middle to better speak for all residents,” the Times reported.

“I want her to dial back the hard-core conservative ideology that is driving her, and think about who we, as a community, really are,” Murphy told the Times.

Staten Island, however, “tends to vote Republican,” the Times reported, adding that “in 2016 and 2020, it was the only borough in New York City that Trump won” and Malliotakis’ “base is expecting her to represent the sentiment of Trump voters in the district.”

Malliotakis, in an interview, praised Trump’s term for “improved health care for veterans, low unemployment numbers, renegotiated trade deals,” the Times reported.

“People didn’t even know about the good things because the other side has been so busy criticizing him and trying to impeach him and investigate him over the four years, which I think was very unfair,” she said, the Times reported.

“I really do believe she had a mandate from her constituents, who also overwhelmingly voted to support Trump, to object to the election results, as well as vote against impeaching the president,” Peter Giunta, president of the Staten Island Young Republican Club, told the Times.

“Number one, she is a rising star,” said Mike Long, the former chairman of the Conservative Party of New York, who has known Malliotakis for over a decade, the Times reported. “She knows exactly what she believes in and where she wants to go.”

The daughter of immigrants, Malliotakis was born in New York and grew up on Staten Island. Her father, George, immigrated to the U.S. from Crete in 1962 with just $50 while her mother, Vera, fled Cuba in the late 1950s, the Times reported, noting that a point of pride for the family is that “neither of them took any public assistance.”

Malliotakis was elected to the New York State Assembly in 2010 and ran against Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2017, “losing but ultimately seeing overwhelming support in her home borough, where about 70 percent of the population voted for her,” the Times reported.

“In 2020, she challenged Mr. Rose in a particularly aggressive race,” the Times reported, adding that “Malliotakis’ campaign seized on conservative backlash to the protests against racial injustice in the summer. Rose’s attendance at a single protest became a focal point of the campaign, enabling Malliotakis — who boasted the endorsement of five police unions — to accuse Rose of being a supporter of efforts to defund the police.”

In 2016, Malliotakis “had served as the New York State chair for Senator Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign, and had openly criticized Trump’s behavior, using the #NEVERTRUMP hashtag on social media,” the Times reported, but after Rubio lost the nomination, Malliotakis “shifted from being against Mr. Trump to entrenching herself fervently in his camp.”

“Longtime friends and local politicians were confused by the sudden switch, claiming that she swung right to secure votes,” the Times reported, citing “Mike Arvanites, a surveyor for the city’s Board of Elections in Staten Island, [who] has known Ms. Malliotakis for so long that he was present at her 40-day blessing and baptism in their Greek Orthodox Church.”

Arvanites noted that “Malliotakis was elected to the New York State Assembly during the rise of the Tea Party, but she rejected the group’s extremism,” the Times reported.

“The year she was running for mayor, she explained to me that she was terrified of some Trump supporters,” Arvanites, a Democrat, told the Times.

He said he “believed that Ms. Malliotakis has been radicalized by several in her camp, including Leticia Remauro, a Republican operative associated with Ms. Malliotakis’ congressional campaign and a longtime friend of the congresswoman,” the Times reported, noting that “last month, Remauro was pilloried for saying ‘Heil Hitler’ in an earlier protest against coronavirus restrictions,” and “Malliotakis released a statement repudiating Remauro’s remarks.”

Malliotakis “made her loyalty clear, joining three New York-based representatives and other Republicans in Congress to vote to overturn the election results,” the Times reported, adding that “she said she would keep an open mind when it comes to President Biden.”

“I’m willing to hear him out,” Malliotakis said in her interview, the Times reported. “There are opportunities for us to work together where there is some common ground, when it comes to vaccine distribution, reopening the economy and returning the jobs that we lost.”

“But,” she said, “I’m also mindful of the fact that I’m going to need to push back,” the Times reported.