The Metropolitan Republican Club, that is. Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis visited Manhattan’s Metropolitan Republican Club tonight as she continues rolling out her recently announced mayoral campaign. Speaking to an audience of 45-50 people for about 20 minutes, Malliotakis was well-received.
Saying “I’ve been part of a real reform movement in Albany,” Malliotakis characterized her 6+ years in the State Assembly as defined by having “taken on” former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio and promised to similarly move to change City Hall. She offered plenty of criticism of Mayor de Blasio, but kept it focused on his performance and substantive decisions. She attributed her decision to run as driven by Mayor de Blasio’s so-called “sanctuary city” polices and a weak Republican field. She described her opponents as not having energy or generating excitement, and dismissively said that one agrees with the Mayor’s sanctuary city policies (Massey) and the other “voted for Obama” (Faulkner). Malliotakis said she was angered by de Blasio’s sanctuary city policies, including restrictions on Immigration & Customs Enforcement operations on Rikers Island, limits on the crimes that will warrant turning over a defendant to ICE and his decision to destroy records acquired in the City’s municipal ID program.
Malliotakis also criticized the mayor for the growing number of homeless people, crime and the sharp growth of the City budget. Like her fellow Republican candidates, Malliotakis expressed outrage at the increasing and increasingly visible population of homeless people. Like her competitors she also offered a path seemingly contrary to the principle of smaller government, calling for increased numbers of caseworkers so that the City can effectively address the underlying causes of each homeless person’s circumstances. She also expressed support for prohibiting non-New Yorkers from accessing City services.
On crime, Malliotakis focused on two narrow topics. She spoke briefly of quality-of-life offenses, such as graffiti, littering and urinating in public, as insufficiently policed. Saying that “rape is up 33%” since de Blasio took office, she said that “as a woman, I find that to be offensive” that de Blasio touts a decrease in serious crime despite such an increase in the occurrence of rapes.
Malliotakis was also deeply critical of the substantial increase in the City budget under de Blasio, both on the amounts spent and the reliance by the mayor (in her view) of increasing spending as a solution to all problems.
Malliotakis pitched herself as the candidate most capable of drawing Democrats, saying that as a woman and the daughter of Greek and Cuban immigrants she’ll be able to draw votes of traditionally Democratic constituencies of women and hispanics.
Malliotakis deftly handled a half dozen questions. Asked how she would “overcome the rampant voter fraud” Malliotakis said she planned to have a large effort of poll workers and volunteers to monitor voting but didn’t directly embrace the premise of “rampant voter fraud.” When asked about dealing with public sector unions Malliotaki offered some positive words for them but expressed concerns about the large looming pension obligations. She seemed comfortable with rent stabilization while saying it’s unfair to landlords to not allow rent increases while simultaneously raising property taxes and water bills. Asked who she supported in the 2016 presidential election Malliotakis replied “Trump”, but then added that she actively supported Marco Rubio, moving to Trump once Rubio dropped out.
Her audience appeared quite pleased with her appearance, with a good number introducing themselves and offering to donate to her campaign. While her audience was less than half as large as the audience for Paul Massey in January she seemed more in sync with them. With six years in office and four successful elections she was far more fluid in her speech and in responding to audience questions.
Video – Speech & Q&A: