STATEN ISLAND — The race for Staten Island's congressional seat got even more crowded as a fifth Democrat, Army veteran Max Rose, recently announced his campaign.
The first-time candidate said he was inspired to run because he was "fed up" by the situation in Washington and vowed to fight for the working class in the district.
"Things for the working class and middle class are just getting tougher and tougher," said Rose, a St. George resident who was awarded the Purple Heart for his time in Afghanistan. "Our infrastructure is crumbling and all the while our system is absolutely riddled with unfairness.
"These problems, they're not new," Rose added. "What's striking about it is the fact that every day Staten Islanders and people who live in South Brooklyn are working harder and harder and they don't get to reap the benefits."
If elected, Rose said he'll focus on lowering health care costs for residents and helping ease Staten Islanders' long commutes by fighting for an extra lane on the West Shore Expressway and expanded ferry service.
To get the chance to run for Congress, Rose will first have to clear a crowded field of Democratic contenders that include bond trader Zach Emig, retired boxer Boyd Melson, retired NYPD officer Michael DeCillis and nonprofit executive Michael DeVito Jr.
After the primary, Rose would also have to face off against incumbent Donovan and flip the generally Republican voting district. He could also have to deal with disgraced Rep. Michael Grimm who's reportedly considering to run again after his tax fraud conviction.
Despite having more registered Democratic voters, the borough generally votes Republican, except in the North Shore. Donovan's seat was last held by a Democrat in 2008 by Michael McMahon.
McMahon lost the seat to political newcomer Grimm who retained it while under indictment against a better funded Dominick Recchia.
However, the seat has been called the state's "most competitive" and Rose is confident he can be the first Democrat to hold it in nearly a decade.
"This has nothing to do with party and has everything to do with that we need to start electing the right people in D.C.," said Rose.
"I have a lot of confidence that we're going to prove all those naysayers wrong when they say the 11th Congressional District can't be flipped."
Rose said he feels Donovan lacks the "courage to lead" the district evident by his refusal to host in-person town halls despite repeated calls from residents on both sides of the bridge. Rose added that the Republican party as a whole has been focused on "ridiculous" issues instead of helping the working class.
"We see things like travel bans and banning transgender in the military, I don't see any solutions for everybody who's waking up every day and working their heart out," said Rose, who still serves in the National Guard.
Rose, 30, grew up in Bay Ridge and got his bachelor's degree from Wesleyan University and a master's from the London School of Economics. He previously worked as a special assistant to late Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.
He joined the Army in 2010 and served a tour of duty in Afghanistan where he earned a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Combat Infantry Badge.
Rose moved to St. George when he got out of active duty two years ago. He volunteers for the anti-gun violence group Occupy the Block and is on the board of the Staten Island Museum.