Max Rose faces long road from Staten Island to Gracie Mansion


NEW YORK — Possible mayoral candidate U.S. Rep. Max Rose will likely portray himself as a pragmatist who can rebuild the city in the aftermath of a catastrophic pandemic. But the blunt-talking 34-year-old from Staten Island faces a tough path in a crowded Democratic primary field, in part because he represents some of the least-Democratic parts of the city.

Rose, who opened a mayoral campaign account with the Campaign Finance Board last week, will soon give up his House seat, having lost reelection to Republican Nicole Malliotakis last month. His base on Staten Island and in southern Brooklyn has some of the lowest turnouts in Democratic primaries, and the positions he has taken during his single term in Congress could put him at odds with key voting blocs elsewhere in the city. And, in any case, no Staten Islander has been elected mayor since the city's consolidation in 1898.

In an email to supporters on Sunday, Rose, a decorated U.S. Army veteran, portrayed himself as an outsider eager to take on the city’s problems.

“It wasn’t just a pandemic, but generations of politicians and power brokers who dug this hole. Now they’re telling us they’ll fix it while still holding the shovel? Come on,” the email said.

The last candidate to attempt to launch a mayoral campaign from Rose’s corner of the city was former City Council Member Sal Albanese, who lived in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn. He received less than 1 percent of the vote in the 2013 Democratic primary. Rose, however, has many more advantages than Albanese had. He has a bigger district and far higher name recognition, in part because of relentless television ads that aired during his bitter fight against Malliotakis, many of which hammered the mayor as much as his opponent.

“It appears Rose would be the most well-known and passionate foe of [Mayor Bill] de Blasio, and is positioned to blast away for every misstep of pandemic management,” said Richard Flanagan, a political science professor at The College of Staten Island. “A congressional district is not a bad base from which to launch a campaign because, unlike more than half the field, he has a geographic base.”

Rose garnered more than 137,000 votes in his House race, which would seem like a solid base of support from which to launch a citywide campaign. But history would suggest few of those voters will turn out in next year’s June primary.

In 2013, the most recent Democratic mayoral primary when there was an open seat, Staten Island accounted for just 3 percent of the total turnout. Brooklyn voters made up one-third of the electorate, slightly ahead of Manhattan. But turnout varied widely within the borough.


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