Contribution by David Spencer, Co-Founder of The Open America PAC
The Republican primary campaign in New York’s 11th Congressional District in Staten Island and South Brooklyn is heating up. With one week to go, the momentum looks to be behind the community’s candidate, Joe Caldarera. Joe is a true conservative, who has been talking about his pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and pro-Trump positions to Republicans across the district.
The Brooklyn Law graduate and former Kings County Prosecutor is heading into the final week of the campaign riding a wave of important conservative endorsements including the NRA, former Staten Island Republican Party Chairman John Antoniello, House Freedom Caucus Member Paul Gosar, Family-PAC Federal, and Republicans for National Renewal. Caldarera’s conservative message is resonating both with national conservative groups and with voters on the ground.
Caldarera’s opponent is the establishment choice, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, whose troubling record on issues important to conservatives is making Republican primary voters think twice about trusting her with their votes. Many of them recall less-than-fondly her run for New York City Mayor, during which she dropped any conservative principles she may have once had. In a quixotic bid for an office she was never going to win, she abandoned everything that tied her to the Right.
Also troubling to Republican primary voters is her liberal voting record in the Leftist-dominated State Assembly. Malliotakis has voted for public funding of abortion and is “not opposed” to abortion. Malliotakis also voted for the SAFE Act—the most restrictive gun control legislation in the country. That vote is one reason the NRA gave her the worst grade of any NY Republican currently running in a primary. Compared with Caldarera’s conservative ideology, Malliotakis is more in line with her liberal colleagues in the Assembly than with Republican voters.
Republican primary voters in the district also haven’t forgotten that she is an avowed member of the #NeverTrump movement, repeatedly disavowing the President and reminding liberal city voters that she didn’t endorse him or support him. She didn’t even vote for him when he ran against Hillary Clinton in 2016, writing in Senator Marco Rubio instead. Malliotakis has also called President Trump’s policies “not good policies,” and strongly opposes his immigration policies, going so far as supporting New York’s status as a sanctuary city. Republican primary voters are also confused as to why Malliotakis contributed to avowed socialist Mayor Bill De Blasio when she also oversaw ConEd’s PAC as a lobbyist and two of her Assembly staffers are reliable Democrat contributors, contributing to Hillary Clinton, the SI Democrat Committee and other local Democrats.
Malliotakis’ liberal positions were suited for a run for New York City Mayor but are not resonating in the conservative 11th Congressional District. The community is coalescing around Caldarera.
In fact, in his endorsement last week, former Staten Island Republican Party Chairman Antoniello said, “Joe is the only Republican candidate running for Congress who is Pro-Life, supports our Second Amendment, and fully supports our President.” Antoniello went on to encourage Staten Island Republicans to join him in voting for Caldarera, the only conservative in the race, on the 23rd. It looks like most of them are going to do just that.