NEW YORK CITY — It's a Staten Island thing.
Despite his longtime friendship with Mayor Bill de Blasio — including softball games and sharing cannoli — Staten Island Borough President James Oddo endorsed fellow Republican Nicole Malliotakis, who's main fundraising pitch has been to "take out" de Blasio in the November mayoral race.
In a statement for the endorsement, Oddo didn't criticize his pal de Blasio but said Malliotakis's run gives Staten Islanders a chance to finally have somebody in Gracie Mansion who understands the borough.
"Having served as Borough President the last three plus years, and living the reality that city agencies play a dominant and outsized role in the local decision-making process, demonstrates unmistakably that non-Staten Islanders still don’t truly know or understand our borough, and probably never will," Oddo said in a statement.
"How great would it be for a Staten Islander to sit in a seat of power and give us better than a fighting chance at some of our longstanding battles? Nicole provides a unique candidacy in what admittedly is a difficult race."
While de Blasio has not enjoyed a warm welcome from the rest of Staten Island, he has been friends with Oddo since their City Council days, bonding over their shared Italian heritage.
Even though they come from different parties, de Blasio said he also enjoys a better working relationship with Oddo than with fellow Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"My experience with Jimmy Oddo has been one of absolute, total consistency. What you see is what you get, man of his word," de Blasio said during his week on Staten Island last month. "That's been this experience, the other experience has obviously been very different."
De Blasio and Oddo talk about four times a month, play baseball together and talk politics over Italian dinners, Politco New York reported in a story about their friendship.
Oddo said that unlike a lot of other politicians in the borough, he refuses to take pot-shots at the mayor publicly and tries to work with him on improving Staten Island.
"The mayor is really, really, really unpopular in my borough, and if I was a different kind of elected official, I’d be blowing him up everyday. But then I wouldn't have three years of record amount of paving, the first legitimate plan for health and wellness, the city funding to improve the ferry schedule to every 30 minutes," Oddo told Politco.
"What I can say is that I speak truth to the mayor. I’m not doing my constituents any good not to, and I’m not doing him any good to be an echo chamber. It doesn't help anyone, and that’s not who I am."
However, his endorsed mayoral candidate has been a vocal opponent of the mayor.
Malliotakis previously sued de Blasio to preserve IDNYC records, vowed she would fight for taxpayers who are against many of de Blasio's policies when she announced her run for mayor in the Republican primary and has asked for money to oust de Blasio.
Recent fundraising emails sent by her campaign were titled "How much would you give to 'take out' de Blasio?" and "Would you give $25 to get rid of de Blasio?"