She’s a “first class fraud.” He’s a “radically liberal” clone of Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Welcome to the big-buck, mud-slinging TV ad war pitting first-term Democrat Rep. Max Rose against Republican rival Nicole Malliotakis, a state assemblywoman who was the GOP’s 2017 candidate for New York City mayor.
The brutal broadsides on the airwaves could determine who prevails to serve the swing 11th congressional district, which encompasses all of Staten Island and portions of southern Brooklyn, in what is considered one of the most competitive House races in the country.
“It’s going to be a tough race. Money will be pouring in from all sides,” said political consultant George Arzt.
President Trump, whose company owned apartment complexes for years on Staten Island, carried the 11th CD by 10 points over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. Two years later, Rose beat out incumbent Republican Rep. Dan Donovan 53-47.
One wildcard issue: How will voters perceive Rose’s House vote to impeach Trump.
The president previously endorsed Malliotakis and slammed Rose for his pro-impeachment vote during an exclusive Post interview.
Rose has a fundraising advantage, having raised $5.74 million to spend on his campaign, versus $1.77 million in donations raised by Malliotakis. But she is also getting financial backing from the House GOP and outside conservative groups.
Anticipating a formidable challenge, Rose struck first to try to define Malliotakis by televising an ad portraying her as a “first class fraud” on June 24 — the day after she easily won her Republican primary.
“First Nicole Malliotakis hated Trump,” the ad said. “But now that she’s running for Congress, she says she loves him.”
Malliotakis was repeatedly asked about her views of Trump when she ran for mayor in an overwhelmingly Democratic city where the president is unpopular and sought to distance herself.
The ad also claims Malliotakis flipped her position on illegal immigrants and once oversaw a political action committee when she previously worked for Con Edison that donated money to de Blasio.
“It’s everything you hate about politics — all in one person. Nicole Malliotakis: The First Class Fraud,” the narrator says.
In another 30-second spot, the Rose campaign raps Malliotakis for “getting photoshopped” into a picture that makes it appear she was delivering supplies to front-line supporters during the pandemic. It was the handiwork of the Brooklyn Conservative Party, which is backing Malliotakis, not the candidate herself.
It also noted she voted for a state law that exempted nursing homes from negligence lawsuits during the pandemic.
Malliotakis recently responded in kind with her own hard-hitting ads showing graphic footage that tries to link Rose to de Blasio, violent anti-cop protests and defund the police movement.
One 30-second spot bankrolled by the Malliotakis campaign refers to the “Thin Blue Line” that shows a protester smashing a police car window.
“A line radically shrinking, thanks to liberals like Congressman Rose,” the announcer says while footage of protesters stomping on the hood of police cars appears.
“Rose joined de Blasio and the defund the police calling to dismantle the NYPD, close Rikers Island [jail] and end cash bail that puts violent criminals immediately back on our streets. De Blasio and Rose’s policies aren’t just radically liberal, they’re radically dangerous.”.
Malliotakis narrates a second anti-Rose 30-second spot, looking into the camera and saying, “What are Max Rose and Bill de Blasio thinking?”
“I approve this message because I want your family and mine to be safe.”
Malliotakis — who was endorsed by the NYC Police Benevolent Association — is also getting air support from the Republican House Leadership PAC, which ran its own ad targeting Rose for marching in a protest against police brutality on Staten Island in June that ended at the 122nd Precinct. Some protesters carried signs that said “Blue Lives Murder” and “All Cops Are Bastards.”
Rose, a military veteran who fought in Afghanistan and performed reserve duty on Staten Island to aid in the pandemic, has scoffed at accusations that he’s a hard-left liberal, boasting that he’s taking on fellow first-term Democratic Rep. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the socialist wing of his party.
The Rose campaign issued a “fact check” saying he opposed defunding the police. He said he supported closing the Rikers Island jail complex as long as no jail is placed on Staten Island.
Rose acknowledged he supported Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s original bail reform plan but said a compromise bill with the Legislature went “too far, too fast” and called for revisions.
The congressman also said he backs first responders and voted for federal funding for the NYPD.
Meanwhile, the Malliotakis campaign dismissed Rose’s attacks as “desperate.”
“Desperate candidates say desperate things and it’s become obvious that Max Rose is losing this race and will say or do anything to save his job. On issue after issue, Congressman Rose’s cynical attempts to twist the truth and tell tall tales show, that in reality, he’s the real fraud in this race,” said Malliotakis spokesman Rob Ryan.
Ryan said Rose is “shamefully politicizing” the pandemic by attacking Malliotakis on votes related COVID-19 that were passed nearly unanimously by Republicans and Democrats and supported and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“Rose claims Nicole Malliotakis doesn’t support President Trump, when in fact President Trump has repeatedly endorsed Nicole Malliotakis while calling Rep. Rose a ‘fraud’ and a ‘puppet for (Nancy) Pelosi’ in the pages of the New York Post,” he said.
Asked if Malliotakis would run an ad attacking Rose for voting to impeach Trump, Ryan said, “Stay tuned.”