NEW YORK — Democrat Rep. Max Rose, facing a nearly 16-point deficit as the counting of absentee ballots began this week, on Thursday conceded to Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis after a contentious battle for New York’s 11th Congressional District.
The swing district covers Staten Island and south Brooklyn. It will be the only congressional seat in New York City represented by a Republican.
What You Need To Know
- Nicole Malliotakis was 37,000 votes ahead on Election Day
- There were 50,000 absentee ballots in this race that Rose wanted counted
- The numbers were not in the Democrat’s favor on Thursday, so he conceded
The congressman on Thursday afternoon issued a statement saying as absentee ballots continued to be counted, he realized there was no path to victory.
“As we continue to count every ballot and are on track to dramatically narrow the gap by tens of thousands of votes to a 4-5 point margin, it is now clear that we will fall short of 50.1%. I have called to congratulate Congresswoman-elect Malliotakis on her win and concede the race. I promise every resident of the 11th Congressional District that we will ensure a smooth transition,” Rose said in the statement.
We had not heard from Rose since Election Day.
On Election Night, after Malliotakis declared victory, Rose did not concede, although he admitted he faced an uphill battle to close the gap.
Rose is down roughly 37.000 votes with around 50,000 absentee ballots to be counted. He would have had to win about 75% of the absentee ballots. Across the country, Democrats have won the vast majority of absentee ballots, but not at that high of a rate in most districts. It became clear on Thursday that Rose would not be able to catch up to Malliotakis.
It’s not yet clear what the final margin will be, but it will likely be in the single digits. The only poll in the race put it as a statistical tie.
In a statement, Rose said, "All of us in public life have a responsibility to try to heal the divisions and restore faith and trust in each other. I know that we can summon that spirit because we’ve done it before."
Much of this campaign was focused on Rose marching in a Black Lives Matter protest this summer. It was used as ammunition by Malliotakis, who cast herself as a law-and-order candidate.
Malliotakis was already in Washington D.C. on Thursday attending orientation for new members of Congress. In a statement, she said, "I want to thank everyone who made this hard-fought victory a reality. I also want all constituents of the 11th Congressional District to know that I will continue my fight for safe streets, to rein in taxes, rebuild our economy and to preserve the American Dream against the crawl of socialism for future generations."
The congresswoman-elect, who is of Greek and Cuban decent, is already looking to shake up Congress. She said she could start her own “squad,” perhaps rivaling another New York congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Malliotakis says her squad would be anti-socialist.
An Ugly Race
The race was among the most bitter in the state, with Rose and Malliotakis trading pointed attacks as they tried to capture the city’s only swing congressional district. During the campaign, Malliotakis falsely claimed Rose supported the “Defund the Police” movement, while the congressman falsely said the Republican backed raising property taxes. Their records didn’t back up those claims.
The race was a snapshot of the national environment: a Republican touting herself as the law-and-order candidate while a Democrat tried to balance the progressive and more moderate parts of his party. Although Democrats are projected to maintain control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans have narrowed the majority in part thanks to wins in swing races like the 11th Congressional District.
Malliotakis also played up her support of President Donald Trump, who endorsed her and is popular in the district. Data is not yet available on how much of an impact the law-and-order and Trump messages had on voters.
It’s also unclear how much of an impact Rose’s decision to vote for impeachment impacted the race. Although originally expected to be the top issue on the campaign trail, the coronavirus pandemic and the fight over “Defund the Police” proved to be bigger topics.
The Assemblywoman also frequently tied Rose, a moderate, to very liberal Democrats, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is disliked on Staten Island. For his part, Rose rejected such ties, including by calling de Blasio “the worst mayor in the history of New York City” in a campaign ad.
Rose was elected in Democrats’ 2018 wave year in the House after beating Republican Rep. Dan Donovan. A Democrat hasn't held the seat for two consecutive terms in decades. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district, but there are tens of thousands of unaffiliated voters in the borough that often swings elections. The GOP wins most races on Staten Island.
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This story includes reporting from Courtney Gross.
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