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As Grimm Exits, A “Rising Star” Takes Flight

As the stagehands clear the debris from the stage of the Second Act of “Staten Island Follies”, the third act promises to be spectacular.

Waiting in the wings after disgraced Congressmen Vito Fossella and Michael Grimm stands Nicole Malliotakis, the NY Republican State Assemblywoman of Greek and Cuban ancestry (she’s the first Hispanic lawmaker to represent Staten Island), is the pick of many to succeed the recently-convicted Congressman from Staten Island, who recently pleaded guilty to felony tax fraud.

“As someone who currently represents both Brooklyn and Staten Island, I have a thorough understanding of the needs of the district. I will be discussing it with my party leaders, county committee members, my supporters and my family, and will make a decision shortly”, said Malliotakis on Monday night.

The word is welcome to many grassroot Republicans who had hoped that any support offered for the disgraced Grimm in his successful re-election bid over hapless Democrat Domenic Recchia would simply “keep the seat warm” for fellow Republican Malliotakis while waiting for the proverbial chips to fall where they may.

Malliotakis, who was elected to her third term in the NY State Assembly, brings a lot to the table, having first won elective office in 2010. A lifelong Staten Islander (an important factor in considering Grimm’s successor, as the district is split between all of Staten Island and portions of Brooklyn), Malliotakis boasts a B.A. from Seton Hall University and an M.B.A. from Wagner College.  Nicole began her political career as most do – working within politics for elder statesmen, including former NY Governor George Pataki.  At CPAC 2013, Malliotakis was honored by the American Conservative Union as one of the 10 Conservatives Under 40 to watch.

In the NY Assembly, Malliotakis proved to be a thorn in the Democratically-dominated Assembly – the domain of embattled Speaker Shelly Silver, who he himself is also under investigation for his connection to a law firm whose payments he failed to disclose.  Nicole has been an outspoken advocate fighting the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, working to halt fare hikes and service reductions.  Malliotakis has also been committed on public safety matters, looking to strengthening the laws that protect our schools and communities from dangerous criminals. She has been at the forefront of efforts to crack down on crime at all levels, especially against children.

While on her way to winning her third term, the question of “will she or won’t she” always loomed, but Malliotakis handled the queries with grace and class – traits uncommon in past representatives in Congress from Staten Island. “Where I go from here is up to God and my constituents”, said Malliotakis to SILive during her campaign, “and if for some reason my constituents would like to see me and my party would like to see me in another capacity somewhere down the line, then I will certainly look into and entertain that.”

Others entertaining running in a possible special election is Richmond County District Attorney Dan Donovan (the same DA smack dab in the middle of the Eric Garner non-indictment) and State Senator Andrew Lanza.  Ultimately, the political parties within the district will designate their respective candidates if and when the seat opens and a Special Election is declared.

You might notice a familiar tone in my writing, and that is because I know Nicole Malliotakis from my work in politics, and having known her some years, I can say with the utmost confidence that Staten Island and Brooklyn can find no better or honorable person to represent them, should she – as I hope she will – decide to restore the honor of the office of U.S. Representative from New York’s 11th Congressional District. 

About Gene Berardelli

Gene Berardelli is a noted Republican election law attorney, a civil litigator, a blogger and host of Behind Enemy Lines, a internet radio show that features urban Republicans broadcasting from "The People's Republic of New York City" detailing the "fight from within the belly of the Liberal beast" on We Are America Radio Wednesday nights at 10 PM.

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