The National Rifle Association has fired a political shot in what had been considered a non-competitive Republican primary for the 11th congressional seat in Staten Island and southern Brooklyn.
The NRA has endorsed little-known candidate Joe Caldarera over veteran state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis.
Malliotakis, first elected to the Assembly in 2010, was the GOP candidate for mayor in 2017. While Democratic incumbent Bill de Blasio defeated her citywide, Malliotakis garnered an impressive 70 percent of the vote in her home borough of Staten Island.
The NRA gave Caldarera the nod after giving Malliotakis a C minus for her legislative voting record.
She voted for the NY Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act in 2013 — gun safety restrictions that are opposed by the gun-rights lobby.
The NRA said it gave Caldarera, 28, the endorsement based on his answers in its questionnaire. He has never held office or taken any votes to be judged on.
“I have always been steadfast and strong in my support for our 2nd Amendment constitutional rights, and I am thrilled that the NRA has endorsed my campaign. Nicole Malliotakis does not share the values of the people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn, and I am looking forward to offering them a loyal conservative choice on June 23rd,” Caldarera said in a statement.
Malliotakis initially endorsed Marco Rubio for president over Trump in 2016, and she distanced herself from the president when questioned about him and his policies during the 2017 mayoral races.
Some independent political observers, such as the Cook Political Report, consider the 11th congressional district a toss-up in the general election. Trump easily carried the congressional district in 2016.