Kristy Marmorato, the Republican X-ray technician running against New York City Council Member Marjorie Velázquez in the Bronx, has been endorsed by several prominent individuals with close ties to former President Donald Trump.
As first reported by the Daily News, former Republican Assembly candidate Gene DeFrancis wrote a lengthy endorsement for Marmorato in February, describing her as: “Qualified. Dignified. Bonafide.” His glowing appraisal – as well as Marmorato’s response thanking him for his support and friendship – has since been condemned by the Velázquez campaign given that DeFrancis was recorded in 2020 saying he had just been with the Proud Boys in Washington, D.C.
Later, in the days leading up to the June 27 primary, two Trump loyalists also expressed their support for Marmorato. One of those individuals was Kash Patel, former chief of staff to the acting secretary of defense under Trump, whose tax-exempt charity Fight With Kash came under scrutiny for providing thousands of dollars to two former FBI whistleblowers who were working with House Republicans to push claims of politically fueled corruption.
“I’ve known Kristy for over a decade and she is the only strong Conservative that can not only defeat the Democrats, but also help destroy the warped policies that are destroying our community. She’s a political outsider just like Donald Trump was,” Patel said in a video shared from Marmorato’s Facebook account on June 16.
Marmorato wrote that she was proud to receive the endorsement from her friend and “thankful for his service to our country and his support for President Trump.”
Richard Grenell, U.S. ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence, also urged constituents to vote for her in another video shared on Marmorato’s Facebook page on June 26. Grenell was subpoenaed in April to testify during special counsel Jack Smith’s ongoing criminal probe into Trump’s handling of classified documents.
Marmorato’s brother, Bronx Republican Party Chair Mike Rendino, has also enthusiastically supported the former president, sharing a photo in 2016 of the two of them together and touting in a letter how the Bronx Republican Party “clinched the nomination for President Trump in 2016 primary and delivered all 9 delegates.” Her close ties to Rendino and the party’s Board of Elections commissioner – her husband Gino Marmorato – have also garnered some criticisms from the Velázquez campaign for how they could potentially influence the election in her favor. Marmorato told the Daily News that her husband has recused himself from any elections business connected to her run.
“While our opponent has been cozying up to unhinged MAGA radicals like the Proud Boys, Council Member Velázquez has been delivering more funding for local police, building affordable housing for seniors and veterans, and helping small businesses thrive,” JT Ennis, Velázquez’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “Extreme MAGA bigotry is out of step with East Bronx communities, and Council Member Velázquez will always stand up to condemn hate when she sees it.”
Marmorato did not respond to a request for comment, but there’s no mention of Trump on her campaign website. Her platform largely emphasizes quality-of-life issues like job creation, “combating overdevelopment” while supporting “community-centric expansion,” reducing or eliminating income taxes and repealing cashless bail.
That makes sense, according to Democratic strategist Trip Yang.
“The partisan advantage for this district is historically Democratic so it’s logical for Kristy to try to portray herself as nonpartisan,” he said. “But she’s not because she does have a lot of well-documented Trump supporters supporting her.”
While a Republican hasn’t been elected as a representative in the Bronx in the past 20 years, the District 13 race is likely to be among the borough’s most competitive in November. Democrats still hold a sizable voter enrollment advantage, but that didn’t prevent Republican Curtis Sliwa from narrowly defeating New York City Mayor Eric Adams in this district during the 2021 mayoral election. Still, while the district is in a section of the Bronx that’s the friendliest to Republicans, voters tend to lean toward more moderate candidates.
“The Democrats in the 13th Council District are the kind of Democrats that support Republicans, but they don’t support any Republican,” J.C. Polanco, a centrist political analyst, previously told City & State.
Whether that’ll play to Marmorato’s favor in the general election remains to be seen. Velázquez is popular with the Democratic Party and has benefited from the backing of labor unions, although her eventual support of the controversial Bruckner Boulevard rezoning sparked a surge of backlash from many constituents. She’s also established herself as a more moderate Democrat during her time in office, according to Yang.
“(Velázquez) has been active in Democratic politics and civic engagement. Kristy doesn’t seem to have that same groundswell of community support and is trying to rebrand herself as a moderate which goes against her history,” he said.