Island Living

Rose’s congressional hopes likely hinge on redistricting outcome, analysts say

The one-term New York congressman announced that he'll challenge Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) in 2022

MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann

Max Rose

Former Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) announced his intention on Monday to reclaim his former Staten Island congressional seat, surprising few in New York’s political establishment following his 2020 loss to Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY). But while his candidacy has been widely anticipated, analysts say that his fate will depend largely on the yet-to-be-determined outcome of New York’s congressional redistricting process.

The district, which includes all of Staten Island and portions of South Brooklyn, leans more conservative than the rest of New York City, and is the only one currently represented by a Republican. Rose’s chances of victory in a rematch likely depend on more heavily Democratic areas of Brooklyn being pulled into the district, several Democratic political strategists told Jewish Insider on Monday.

“The question is what will the lines of that district look like? And that will have a lot to do with whether he can win or not,” Hank Sheinkopf, a longtime New York Democratic political consultant, said.

Jake Dilemani, another Democratic strategist and leader of the Manhattan Democratic Party, noted that even the inclusion of parts of Brooklyn in the district would not guarantee Rose a win.

“The ideal portions of Brooklyn would be to go a little bit farther north and east in Brooklyn because the part of Brooklyn that this district takes in is not the most Democratic-friendly turf necessarily,” he said, a reference to the neighborhood of Bay Ridge, which lies on the Brooklyn side of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. “Historically, it’s been turf that’s also been represented by Republicans.”

Ross Wallenstein, a Democratic strategist who served as an assistant to former New York Gov. David Paterson, added that the general election race is likely to be hotly contested, no matter the composition of the district.

New York has an independent redistricting commission — which has not finalized a new map — but the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature could override a final decision. A newly drawn map can also be challenged in court.

Dilemani and Wallenstein told JI that they see the centrist Democrat as the current frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, while Sheinkopf offered a caveat, arguing that a greater number of Democrats in the district could potentially undermine Rose’s chances in a primary by empowering Democratic challengers.

Wallenstein called Rose’s early announcement, prior to a finalized redistricting map “a little bit” surprising and suggested the decision may have been part of an effort to head off Democratic competition. “Getting into the race now may stop others from getting in as well,” he said.

If Rose is the party’s nominee, he may also face an uphill battle against Malliotakis, who received 53% of the vote to Rose’s 47% in 2020.

“Unless the Democrats do a much better job of messaging their successes and their priorities over the next 11 months, we could be looking at another bad year for Democrats,” Dilemani said. “Now a lot of that is out of Max Rose’s control… And Max is going to have to do a very good job of making the case that he’s the best person to deliver for the district.”

Wallenstein argued that the absence of former President Donald Trump — who won the Staten Island district by more than 10 percentage points — on the ballot could help the Democrat.

“The climate for [Rose] on Staten Island with Trump in a presidential race wasn’t good for him,” he said. “I would think that he would be feeling pretty good about his chances given that Donald Trump is not on the ballot.”

Sheinkopf pointed to other factors to explain Rose’s 2020 loss, pinning it squarely on left-wing Democrats’ anti-police rhetoric and the violence that accompanied Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020.

“That is a difficult thing for him to get past because Democrats will be washed with the same brush — they’ll be painted in the same way — which is exactly not what he needs,” he added.