EXCLUSIVE — One of the three New York Republicans to flip Democrat House seats during the 2022 midterm election spoke to Fox News Digital about the influence of Rep. Lee Zeldin’s campaign in driving the blue stronghold state more toward the GOP, arguing Democrats got a wake-up call when it comes to violent crime.
Speaking from Washington, D.C., where he traveled to for freshman orientation, Congressman-elect Anthony D’Esposito detailed how focusing on inflation, cost of living and crime — issues most important to voters — resulted in a Republican win for New York's 4th District, which backed President Biden by 15 percentage points.
'People said it was impossible. We'd never win. There's no way that you're going to take a seat that's been in Democratic hands for the last almost 25 years and flip it Republican,' D’Esposito, whose district falls in Nassau County, told Fox News Digital. 'And we worked hard. We had a great message. We had a great campaign.'
'In Nassau County and specifically in the district that I represent, Democrats outnumber Republicans,' he said. 'So the only way that someone in my situation has the ability to be re-elected is to work across party lines. And I will work across party lines in any and every opportunity that I can in order to deliver for the people of Long Island.'
Republicans in deeply blue New York picked up three House seats, including Mike Lawler, who historically ousted sitting Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.
D’Esposito won 51.9% of the vote over Democrat Laura Gillen’s 48.1%.
And Republican candidate George Santos defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman to flip New York’s 3rd District held by Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi, who traded a re-election bid for an unsuccessful shot at governor.
As the election subsides, D’Esposito, who was overwhelmingly endorsed by law enforcement agencies across Long Island and New York City, agreed that the goal now is to 'keep the conversation going' regarding public safety, vowing to provide whatever federal resources are needed to bolster law enforcement and fight crime.
'Democrats tried throughout this entire campaign to say that crime wasn't an issue. I wore the uniform. I walked those streets. I still speak to men and women that I worked with in the New York City Police Department,' D'Esposito told Fox News Digital. 'I speak to these people, and we know that crime is at record high. We know that people are in fear of going into New York City to be thrown in front of a subway. We know that people are being shot. We know that there's an obscene amount of illegal firearms being taken off the streets. And unfortunately, those who tout them are not being prosecuted because of cashless bill and the failed policies of the Democrats.'
Though Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul defeated the Republican candidate for governor, Zeldin, her narrow victory of just about six percentage points sent shockwaves throughout the Empire State's Democratic establishment. The attacks on Hochul and Albany over cashless bail spearheaded by Zeldin’s campaign helped other Republican candidates gain momentum with voters down the ballot.
'I think Lee Zeldin was a huge help. You know, he ignited a lot of fire throughout the county, throughout New York State, and specifically on Long Island,' D’Esposito, a retired NYPD detective, told Fox News Digital. 'And I think the balance of the entire ticket, up and down ballot, you know, we all help one another.'
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who won re-election in New York’s 11th District, representing Staten Island and Brooklyn, said this cycle she won by 24 percentage points, quadrupling her margin of victory compared to three years ago when she took the seat from former Democratic Rep. Max Rose by just 6%.
'We have to keep fighting to put the pressure on the Democrats who run New York to do the right thing,' Malliotakis told Fox News Digital, noting Democrats still control the state legislature.
'I think this was a wake-up call. I think that they took note of what occurred in New York this year that they almost lost the statewide races,' Malliotakis added. 'I think that if they're smart, they should be taking note of what the people of New York have said to them. Half the state is unhappy with the direction we're headed in or the path that we're on. And they want to see more conservative policies when it comes to public safety, taxation, cost of living. And, you know, we just hope that the cases that we made during the campaign did not fall on deaf ears.'
As for Zeldin, who is now reportedly considering a Republican National Committee chair or Suffolk County Executive run, Malliotakis ventured to argue that he would have won the governor’s race if it weren’t for the hundreds of thousands of people who left New York for other states more beholden to conservative values.
'If it was not for the hundreds of thousands of people that the Democrats have driven away with their one-party rule in New York, Lee would be governor elect right now,' Malliotakis told Fox News Digital. 'That was the margin. It was the population loss. So it went to Ron DeSantis, unfortunately.'
Malliotakis said it was New York Republicans’ pushing back on the 'politicized' restricting process in court that ultimately allowed the state to have fair maps — critical to the GOP picking up those four seats and flipping the control of the House of Representatives from Democratic control.
'I hope if anything, Kathy Hochul recognizes that nearly half the state does not think we're moving in the right direction,' Malliotakis said. 'People in my district see how quality of life and public safety have deteriorated under one-party rule while cost of living and taxes have gone up. And they see the need and the importance of having two-party representation and the value of having alternative viewpoints presented.'