The Reagan Revolution came to Staten Island in 1980 and never really left.
While Democrats outnumber Republicans in the borough, voters there traditionally tilt to the right on Election Day. Richmond County — the borough’s legal moniker — gave Rudy Giuliani his margin of victory over David Dinkins in 1993 and voted for Donald Trump in 2016 while the rest of the city overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton for president.
That trend also extends to Congress, where Republicans held the district for all but two years from 1981 through 2018. But a brutal Republican primary two years ago weakened incumbent Dan Donovan, who then lost to an upstart Democratic challenger, Max Rose. Rose is now trying to fight off GOP Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis in a year that features Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ticket.
While the president’s political coattails are shrinking, that may not be the case in the district, which also includes a swath of southern Brooklyn. Even as the president was hospitalized with COVID-19, hundreds of Trump supporters earlier this month flocked to a rally in the borough where masks were apparently optional.
Hoping to regain the House or at least tamp down losses, some national Republican money has been funneled into the race. Even Knicks owner James Dolan is getting into the act after Rose urged him to sell his foundering team.
Noting that Barack Obama narrowly won the district in 2012 after narrowly losing it in 2008, Democrats are banking on the less-conservative Brooklyn section of the district to help carry Rose to victory.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus is casting a large shadow over the race, with the Brooklyn portion of the district under more restrictive rules for religious services and mass gatherings because of an increase in the number of COVID cases.
Police reform and this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests are also a major topic of debate, with Malliotakis accusing Rose of wanting to slash the NYPD’s budget because of some signs at a protest that he attended. Rose is also turning on the fog machine by saying Malliotakis supports tax hikes because she supported Trump’s tax reform bill that limited a property tax exemption that hurt some homeowners.
And remember when we thought impeachment was going to be the big story of 2020?
In what could be a socially distant slugfest, the two candidates are squaring off in a debate tonight at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on NY1 that will be hosted by Political Anchor Errol Louis. The balance of power is tottering once again over the Verrazzano-Narrows.
You can watch tonight's debate live at 7 p.m. on NY1, on the Spectrum News app and at this link.