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Politics

Man on Wire: In Re-Match, Malliotakis Pushing Rose Right

NEW YORK – The numbers show she’s likely to again beat the man she unseated in 2020 to win a New York district seat in Congress, but Republican Nicole Malliotakis is continuing to depict Max Rose as a liberal, left-leaning progressive who voters should repudiate.

It worked before, and her ties to former President Donald Trump – who endorsed her –  put pressure on Rose to try to move more toward the middle, and maybe a couple of small steps right, veering away from the Democratic left party line.

It looks like another slugfest after Malliotakis beat Rose by a margin of 53.1-46.8 percent two years earlier although a Spectrum News/Siena College poll of likely voters in the district released earlier in October gave her a lead of 49-43.

But among independents, it’s a runaway: Malliotakis leads by a insurmountable 62-25 percent for voters who could swing the 11th Congressional District that includes Staten Island as well as parts of Brookly including parts of Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights — that has over the years tended to favor Democrats, even as Republicans have shown growing strength in recent elections, said The New York Times.

In a feature, the paper reported on the battle for the hearts and minds of an increasingly divided electorate in a highly-charged atmosphere for the midterm elections in which some analysts think democracy itself is at risk.

But for Mr. Rose, the political calculus is far more complicated.

He is seeking to represent Staten Island, a borough with an independent streak and a larger share of Republicans than the rest of the city.

The problem for him lies largely on Staten Island, with more registered Democrats but a hard-core conservative element of blue-collar working-class voters who look at liberals like poison.

Malliotakis’ campaign has called him a radical, the hot word he wants to avoid to try to depict himself as someone who is more reasoned as he reaches out to get back the people who elected him in 2026 – and undecideds.

“We need a balance,” Malliotakis told the paper in an interview. “We don’t have that right now at the city, state or federal level. And I think the pendulum has swung too far to the left.”

That has put Rose on a high-wire as he tries to balance his dedication to liberal principles to the growing enmity among those who prefer the politics of cult and populism and not issues.

Rose is at a crossroads with moving cars running stop signs in all directions as he tries to regain the seat and try to convince unconvinced voters that Malliotakis is a threat because of her unwavering loyalty to Trump.

A QUESTION OF BALANCE

“This is not a Trump district, it’s not a Biden district, it’s not a Republican district, it’s not a Democratic district,” Rose said, as he handed out fliers to voters at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, beating that drum, the paper noted.

“We need a balance,” Malliotakis told the paper in an interview. “We don’t have that right now at the city, state or federal level. And I think the pendulum has swung too far to the left.”

Malliotakis attracts the kind of voters who get pumped up: Rose’s base is more of the kind of brie-and-wine party thinkers who bounce around philosophical arguments, not brickbats or political firebombs.

Malliotakis, the report noted, is sticking to what got her there: voter worries about the economy and public safety, pinning the blame for inflation and crime on Democrats, and trying to tie Rose to the Democrats her people hate as well as pinning him to President Joe Biden.

The poll showed 65 percent of district voters put the economy and 42 percent put crime atop their agenda of priorities.

“People in this district — and most voters — go to the poll because of pocketbook issues,” Christina Greer, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University told the paper.

He’s said her vote to decertify 2020 President election results after the deadly Capitol riots of Jan. 6, 2021 that Trump incited show she is not morally fit to be in office.

“That’s morality. That’s values. That’s far beyond any single public policy issue,” he said, even as Trump voters don’t care about any of that, perhaps giving her a force field against that argument.

Democratic state lawmakers drew a map that put Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood, a liberal bastion, into the district to give Rose an advantage, but a state court reversed it.

The issues are hot potatoes. His campaign released a pair of television ads this month asserting that Ms. Malliotakis had “voted to let states ban abortions with no exceptions,” but she said she would support abortion in cass of rape, incest or where the mother’s life was at risk.

She said he was a vocal supporter of bail reform to let more people out of jail while awaiting trial – the “soft on crime” tactic” – but he said he goes along with criminal justice reform but not all of it.

They have something in common, like in many Congressional districts around the country in an election that could be a litmus test on the future of America with the 2024 President elections in mind: trying to keep their base while gaining new voters, the task more difficult perhaps for Rose as some Democrats are running against the heartbeat of their own party.

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