WASHINGTON — Former representative Max Rose officially announced he’s running to reclaim the seat of New York’s 11th Congressional District after losing to a Donald Trump ally last year.
Rose announced his campaign Monday on Twitter, setting up a potential rematch with Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, the sole Republican member of Congress in New York City.
The race will play an essential role in the 2022 midterms as Republicans try to overtake Democrats’ super-thin House majority. Rose’s defeat was part of a Republican wave down-ballot that shrank Democrats’ healthy majority in Congress after more than a dozen members lost to their Republican opponents.
Rose has been hinting at a rematch. Days before, Rose posted a minute-and-a-half clip on Twitter where he told the story of an exchange between him and one woman who still had a "Max Rose for Congress" lawn sign outside of her home. When he knocked on her door to introduce himself and ask if she’d “read the news,” the woman responded, “I'mma give up when you give up,” he said.
Rose then addressed the audience, “Well, ladies and gentlemen, I’m not giving up. You’re not giving up. … We’re Democrats; we don’t give up.”
NY-11 currently encompasses all of Staten Island and a sliver of southern Brooklyn. While Trump is widely popular in the area, registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans. But the district has swung between the two parties for more than a decade, handing Barack Obama and Donald Trump two wins each, likewise swapping back and forth between congressional candidates of different parties.
NY-11 could swing the other way after a final redistricting map is adopted.
A special commission selected to redraw the state’s congressional lines completed a series of public hearings to get feedback on the two maps proposals — one sanctioned by the Democrats on the 10-member committee and the others by the Republicans on the same committee. Democrats want to include Democratic-leaning Coney Island into NY-11. Ultimately the Democratic majority state legislature gets the final word as they can reject the proposal put forth by the panel of commissioners.
Rose, 35, a war veteran who suffered injuries in Afghanistan and won the Purple Heart for his service, first ran in 2018 on stemming gun violence and ending the opioid crisis. He even vowed not to vote for Nancy Pelosi as speaker when Democrats regained the House — a posture some moderate Democrats take to distance themselves from leadership. Instead, he voted for Sen. Tammy Duckworth, another military veteran.
But the first-year member put himself in the crosshairs of his constituents when he voted to impeach Trump in 2020. And the echoes of “defund the police” coming out of the Democratic Party hampered the New York native’s reelection hopes. Last summer, when protesters took to the streets to rally for racial justice, Rose participated in a march on Staten Island. Malliotakis attacked Rose for advocating to defund the police — an accusation Rose has repeatedly denied. Voters on Staten Island, a pro-police district and home to many of the city’s law enforcement officers, responded by delivering 51.3% of the vote to Malliotakis, swinging the congressional seat.
The “defund” fight has stuck with Rose even after he ceased to be a public figure, as evidenced by one interaction in July, seen by BuzzFeed News, when a man yelled at him in a cramped diner on Staten Island, “Hey! Aren’t you that guy who tried to defund the police? You should be ashamed of yourself.”
True to the district, a second man passed him as he exited the diner and told him he thought Rose got a “raw deal.”
After his loss, Rose filed paperwork in a bid to run for New York City mayor but ultimately bowed out of the race. He then served six months at the Pentagon, working on COVID-19 as the special assistant to the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. He announced he would serve on Mayor-elect Eric Adams’ transition team last week.
In a statement after his announcement Monday, Malliotakis said she is "extremely confident that voters will support my record and once again reject Max Rose, Nancy Pelosi and their socialist agenda. Max Rose, you will be a two-time loser.”
Rose will have to first contend with former Army officer Brittany Ramos DeBarros, an Afro-Latina combat veteran who’s running as a progressive.