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Democratic Rep. Max Rose concedes New York House race

Democratic Rep. Max Rose concedes New York House race
© Greg Nash

Rep. Max RoseMax RoseGOP sees path to House majority in 2022 Bickering Democrats return with divisions Here are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this year MORE (D-N.Y.) conceded his House race against Republican challenger Nicole Malliotakis on Thursday, paving the way for the GOP to retake one of the most competitive districts in the nation.

Malliotakis, a member of the New York State Assembly, is also poised to join the growing number of Republican women who won election to the House this year.

Rose said in a statement that he had called Malliotakis to congratulate her on winning the race, while vowing "a smooth transition."

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The congressman faced an uphill battle for reelection to a second term in the Staten Island-based district, which President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Trump's remaking of the judicial system Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit MORE won by nearly 10 points in 2016.

A central issue of the race was Rose's participation in a Black Lives Matter demonstration protesting police brutality. Republicans accused him of wanting to take money away from police departments — a proposal he did not support — in the police-populated district.

Rose defended his decision to attend the protest during his election night speech.

“If we are going to unite this country then we must listen when a community is hurting,” Rose said. “Black parents worry a chance encounter could end with their baby boy or girl never coming home. And yes, the wife or husband of a police officer feels their heart leave their chest every time a tour starts, scared the love of their life may never walk back through the door."

Since Democrats fell short of their expected House gains in the 2020 elections, lawmakers in swing districts have since accused progressives promoting calls to "defund the police" of undermining colleagues who have to appeal to more centrist constituencies.

Until Rose unseated the then-incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.) in 2018, the culturally conservative and law enforcement-populated district had been the only one in the New York City area represented by a Republican for years.

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Malliotakis’s win will bring the district back into the GOP column.

Rose repeatedly tried to show some independence from the Democratic Party throughout his brief tenure.

In one 15-second campaign ad that went viral in September, Rose called New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioBiden pledges to work with mayors Hundreds of bodies from New York virus surge still stored in freezer trucks Cuomo gets heated with reporters over NYC schools: 'What are you talking about? MORE (D) "the worst mayor in the history of New York City."

"That's it, guys. Seriously, that's the whole ad," Rose said.

He also clashed at times with another prominent fellow New York Democrat, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezBiden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' in new administration Maloney vows to overhaul a House Democratic campaign machine 'stuck in the past' Ocasio-Cortez defends Harry Styles wearing dress on Vogue cover: 'It looks wonderful' MORE, over her progressive policy proposals like the Green New Deal and banning the military from using online gaming platforms for recruitment.

Rose, an Army veteran who earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart after his service in Afghanistan, blasted Ocasio-Cortez’s military recruitment proposal as “incredibly insulting.” 

Rose told the New York Post this year that “it perpetuates the limousine liberal trope that soldiers are idiots who only get duped into enlisting.”

After Rose conceded on Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez offered her support and called him a "great colleague & friend, despite all our differences."

"He was relentlessly attacked for attending a community event after the murder of George Floyd. Max used his election night speech to bravely declare why it was the right thing to do," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

Polls leading up to Election Day showed a tight race between Rose and Malliotakis, who has served in the state Assembly since 2011.

Malliotakis also ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2017 against de Blasio.

The GOP candidate attacked Rose during the campaign for his vote to impeach the president last year after he initially expressed reluctance to pursue impeachment. 

But Malliotakis hasn't always embraced Trump. During her 2017 mayoral run, Malliotakis told the New York Daily News editorial board that she had "mixed feelings" about her vote for Trump and wished she had cast a write-in vote for Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks GOP senator congratulates Biden, says Trump should accept results GOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics MORE (R-Fla.).

Updated: 3:38 p.m.