By John Celock
A 36-year-old state legislator from Staten Island has emerged as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for New York City mayor this year.
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis became the GOP frontrunner Wednesday following real estate developer Paul Massey’s decision to drop out of the contest for the Republican nomination. Malliotakis, a fourth term lawmaker, faces an uphill battle in the fall against Mayor Bill deBlasio (D).
Massey had cited his long shot odds against deBlasio as the reason for his decision to drop out of the mayoral contest.
Malliotakis, who entered the mayoral contest two months ago, faces uphill odds against the well-known deBlasio in the contest, including in the area of fundraising and raising her profile outside of her base on Staten Island. Her Assembly district includes parts of Brooklyn, along with Staten Island’s eastern shore.
Malliotakis’ rise to Republican mayoral frontrunner places her into a position to possibly be the first woman and first Staten Islander to be elected as New York’s mayor. Early in her career, she was an aide to former state Sen. John Marchi (R-Staten Island), the GOP mayoral nominee in 1969 and 1973. She also was an aide to former New York Gov. George Pataki (R).
Marchi was the last Staten Islander to be a major party nominee for mayor.
The last woman to be a major party nominee for New York mayor was Democrat Ruth Messinger in 1997. New York City Public Advocate Letitia James (D) is currently the only woman to hold citywide office in the city. James is one of four women to have been elected citywide in New York history. Former City Council President Carol Bellamy (D) in 1977 and 1981, former Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman (D) in 1989 and former Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum (D) in 2001 and 2005 are the other women to win citywide races.
Malliotakis, who is half Cuban and half Greek, would be the first mayor of Latino descent if elected. Democrat Fernando Ferrer, his party’s nominee in 2005, was the last Latino major party nominee for mayor.
If elected, Malliotakis would not be New York’s youngest mayor, an honor that belongs to Hugh Grant, who was 31 when he was elected mayor in 1889. Seth Low was 31 when he elected mayor of the then independent city of Brooklyn in 1881. Low was later New York City’s mayor. Former Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl (D) is the youngest mayor of a major U.S. city, being 26 when he succeeded to the office in 2006.
Malliotakis would be the youngest mayoral candidate in New York City since former City Council Speaker Gifford Miller’s unsuccessful run for the 2005 Democratic nomination.