Election 2024

Ads target Dem candidate for making a bizarre joke about men kissing each other

Max Rose
Max Rose Photo: Screenshot

The Democratic candidate likely to face off against New York City’s lone Republican member of congress is being targeted by a billboard funded by “angry voters” who are mad he made a joke about Italian American men kissing each other.

Centrist Democrat and former state Rep. Max Rose is aiming to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R) to represent the city’s heavily Republican 11th congressional district, which includes Staten Island and a small party of Brooklyn. Rose represented the district from 2018 to 2020, when he lost the seat to Malliotakis.

With a reportedly significant lead in fundraising and some big endorsements – Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Richie Torres (D-NY) among them – Rose is favored to win Tuesday’s Democratic primary against progressive activist Brittany Ramos DeBarros and educator Komi Agoda-Koussema.

With a rematch between Rose and Malliotais looming, attack ads have been popping up around the district. One ad spotted on Staten Island highlights a particular quote from a 2019 New York Magazine profile of the plain-talking Rose.

Leaving a Federation of Italian-American Organizations fundraising brunch at the time, Rose is reported to have asked “Have you ever seen so many men kissing other men before?”

The ad accuses Rose of “insulting the Italian-American people of Staten Island & Brooklyn.” It is unclear who is responsible for the ad, which simply reads “Paid for by angry voters.”

The incumbent Malliotakis, who scored an endorsement from former President Donald Trump in 2020, is expected to win her own primary race against anti-vaccine activist John Matland. She is likely to hang onto her seat not matter who she faces in the November general election.

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