By Clifford Michel, THE CITY
Nicole Malliotakis, who is poised to become New York City’s only Republican member of Congress, is refusing to acknowledge former Vice President Joe Biden beat President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Malliotakis, who declared victory last week with a 37,000-vote lead over freshman Democratic Rep. Max Rose for the seat covering Staten Island and part of southern Brooklyn, compared Biden’s position to her own as she awaits the counting of 48,000 mail-in ballots.
“There are some really slim margins out there,” Malliotakis, currently an Assembly member representing parts of the two boroughs, told THE CITY in a wide-ranging interview.
Her position not only further aligns her with Trump, whose coattails she rode in winning the only borough to vote for the president, but with national Republicans as she positions herself as Congress’ new anti-AOC.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that Trump is “within his rights” to mount legal challenges based on evidence-free “allegations of irregularities” in the election.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sparked an uproar Tuesday by declaring, “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” And other Republicans in New York State’s congressional delegation, including Long Island’s Lee Zeldin and upstater Claudia Tenney, have also voiced support for Trump’s challenge to Biden’s win.
Casts Aspersions on Vote
Malliotakis noted that two mail-in ballots from her own race reportedly were returned in the names of voters who are dead and asserted that this could have happened elsewhere.
“There are states where the margin is smaller than [New York’s 11th Congressional District] and they called it for Biden,” said Malliotakis in a Tuesday phone interview.
“I just think with all the rule changes and the ability for people to use absentee ballots more freely this year, now we have to ensure that the ballots are counted,” she said. “And so I think the president wants to make sure that the legal ballots are counted and those that are illegitimate are not.”
James Clinton, the Staten Island Democratic Party’s executive director, called Malliotakis’ stance “sad, though not surprising.”
“Whether Nicole wants to acknowledge it or not, Joe Biden is our president-elect and we can’t wait for him to get started,” said Clinton in a statement.
Rose’s campaign didn’t comment on Malliotakis’s stance, but referred THE CITY to a tweet from him congratulating Biden and Kamala Harris on their victory.
‘Law and Order’ Platform
Malliotakis chalked up much of her commanding lead to strong opposition among local Republicans in southern Brooklyn and Staten Island on issues such as bail reform, which Democrats passed in 2019.
“They’re seeing their quality of life deteriorating and seeing the cost of living increasing and I think that was a major motivation for people to come out and send a strong message,” said Malliotakis. “We all offered an alternative to that and that’s why we garnered support from the community. Because we’re fighting for law and order, and we’re fighting for public safety.”
“Law and order” became a defining theme in Malliotakis’ race against Rose, where the campaigns and outside players, including Washington-based political action committees controlled by Democrats and Republicans, spent more than $22 million.
The two fought bitterly via months of TV and online attack ads.
Rose charged Malliotakis was profiting off of the opioid epidemic because she owns 100 shares of Johnson & Johnson. Malliotakis claimed that Rose supported the movement to “defund the police” — a position the moderate Democrat came out against.
The two politicians both repeatedly bashed Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is unpopular on Staten Island.
In the end, Malliotakis benefited from a Trump surge on Staten Island — he won 110,094 votes in the borough, while she pulled in 104,626. Rose would have to take close to 90% of the mail-in ballots to pull out a victory. The counting started Tuesday and could stretch for weeks.
Potential gains in the state Legislature and in the House are crucial for New York Republicans, who were locked out of all of the state’s executive positions and lost their majority in the State Senate back in 2018.
Now Republican state Assembly and Senate candidates are leading in several races across New York City, though thousands of absentee ballots have yet to be counted.
Targeting ‘Socialist Squad’
Malliotakis said she would use her role in the House as a voice against “one-party Democratic rule in the city and state” and oppose what she called the rise of socialism in some parts of the Democratic Party.
Republicans have gained six seats in the House thus far, but Malliotakis will be relegated to the chamber’s minority party.
Still, Malliotakis is getting ready to lob shots at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-The Bronx / Queens) and assure that New York City has “balance” in representation.
“The direction our country was going in with the members of the socialist Squad trying to take our country down a dangerous path,” she said, in a pointed reference to Ocasio-Cortez and the other left-leaning recently elected Democrats dubbed “The Squad.”
“So for me, I’m the daughter of a Cuban refugee, so when I hear someone talk about socialism it scares me,” she said. “And I feel that it’s important that we have members in Washington who are going to fight back against it. Particularly it’s important that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has someone in her backyard being vocal about it.”
When asked if she wanted to run for anything else, Malliotakis, who turns 40 Wednesday, offered a firm “no” before adding: “But I believe that there should be limits and so I don’t intend to stay forever, either. Call me back in five years.”
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