Mike Itkas garnered attention as the 2022 Republican nominee for New York’s 12th Congressional District. While he ultimately lost to longtime Democratic incumbent Carolyn Maloney, his unique background made him stand out.
Itkas was born in Ukraine and immigrated to America as a child. His life has been defined by public service, first in the military and later through politics. However, he also built a successful career in the private sector.
Itkas’ campaign focused on inflation, crime, and the direction of the country under Democratic leadership. His life experience resonated with voters in a competitive district. While his first congressional bid fell short, Itkas emerges as an intriguing political figure for the future.
Background and Early Life
Mike Itkas has lived an extraordinary life since his humble beginnings. He was born in 1968 in Odessa, Ukraine when it was still part of the Soviet Union. His Jewish family faced persecution, ultimately deciding to immigrate to America when Itkas was six years old.
The Itkas family started over in Brooklyn, New York. They confronted challenges common amongst immigrants, including learning English and cultural adaptation. Itkas’ parents emphasized education and hard work, values he has carried throughout his life.
From an early age, Itkas excelled in school. He attended Brooklyn Technical High School, one of New York’s elite specialized public high schools. Itkas graduated in 1986 and enrolled at Cornell University.
In 1991, Itkas completed his Bachelor of Science in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering. This background would serve him well in future endeavors in the military, business, and politics.
Itkas returned to school in his 30s while working full-time in finance. He earned a Master of Business Administration from Baruch College in 2008. Nearly a decade later, Itkas completed a Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance from Western Governors University in 2017.
While attending Cornell, Itkas enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve as a combat engineer. He was commissioned as an officer in 1995 after completing Officer Candidate School.
Itkas has served over 33 years in the Army Reserve, including deployments abroad. He is currently a Lieutenant Colonel overseeing an Engineering Battalion.
Itkas’ military experience features prominently in his professional and political background. He believes service instilled discipline and leadership abilities.
Beyond his military commitments, Itkas built a successful career in the private sector. His background includes working in the financial industry and technology startups.
After college, Itkas worked for several major financial firms. He started at Bankers Trust in 1992 as a portfolio strategist. Itkas later worked for JP Morgan Chase and UBS Investments focused on risk management.
During this time, he earned his MBA at night to advance further in the finance world. Itkas credits the fast-paced environment of Wall Street for shaping his work ethic and competitive drive.
In 2012, Itkas shifted gears by co-founding his first startup called Proforma. The company provided data and analytics for hedge funds and investment banks. Itkas served as CEO until 2015.
His next venture was Shift, a tech startup focused on virtual reality real estate tours. As CEO, Itkas led strategy and operations until 2017.
These entrepreneurial experiences allowed Itkas to apply his technical background in new industries. Risk-taking and innovation are central to his approach in business and politics.
Itkas first became politically active by serving as Chair of his local Community Board in Brooklyn starting in 2015. But he set his sights higher by running for Congress in 2022.
2022 Congressional Campaign
In April 2022, Itkas announced his campaign for New York’s 12th District. He sought to unseat 30-year Democratic incumbent Carolyn Maloney.
Itkas ran on a relatively moderate Republican platform. He focused his message on fighting inflation, reducing crime, and uniting Americans. Itkas believed his life experience would resonate with a broad coalition of voters.
Itkas differentiated himself from Maloney by accusing her of being absent from the district and ineffective. He contended it was time for new representation. The race gained increased prominence when redistricting made the 12th more competitive.
Political Positions and Views
Itkas walked a middle line as a Republican in a Democratic stronghold like New York City. He maintained conservative stances on fiscal and social issues while aiming for bipartisan appeal.
Itkas made inflation his top campaign issue. He blamed excessive government spending under President Biden and Democrats. Itkas argued for fiscal restraint to combat rising costs.
Crime was another focal point. Itkas supported increased funding for law enforcement and called for reforms to the state’s bail laws. He accused Democrats of being soft on crime amidst rising violence.
Itkas took a moderate stance on abortion, supporting limits but with exceptions. He framed himself as pro-business and advocated fewer regulations and taxes. Itkas also called for reforms to social programs and new investments into infrastructure and emerging technologies.
The 2022 race gained national attention as polls showed a tightening contest between Itkas and Maloney. Hopes of an upset were high after Itkas outraised Maloney for two straight quarters.
Ultimately, Maloney prevailed by about 3 points, 54% to 47%. She won by large margins in Manhattan, while Itkas kept it close in Queens and Brooklyn. Despite the loss, Itkas outpaced typical Republican performance in New York City.
Itkas boosted GOP efforts to flip seats and outgain expectations. He credits his background for connecting with various voter blocs in a diverse district. While not victorious, Itkas views the 2022 campaign as the start, not culmination of his political career.
Future Political Plans
Itkas has expressed interest in running again for public office. He believes his message continues resonating with voters disillusioned by Democratic control.
There is speculation Itkas may launch another Congressional bid in 2024. However, he could also set his sights on citywide office in New York given his strong Brooklyn support.
Itkas has been encouraged to share his unique life story with a broader audience. A political memoir could build his profile and clarify his vision for America’s future direction.
At just 55 years old, Itkas has plenty of time to make his next political move. His combination of real-world experience and moderate positioning provide a strong foundation to build upon.
Beyond professional endeavors, Itkas places a high priority on his family and other passions outside work. His loved ones keep him grounded amidst the busy pace of his public life.
Family and Relationships
Itkas resides in Manhattan with his wife Yanina and their two sons. He also has an older son from a previous marriage.
Family represents the driving force in Itkas’ life. Political setbacks sting but his wife and sons keep him persevering towards new goals. Itkas aims to set a strong example of determination and resilience for his children.
Interests and Hobbies
Itkas enjoys staying active outside the office. Fitness is important to his physical and mental wellbeing. Itkas has finished several marathons and triathlons.
Reading and music are other passions. Itkas plays piano and guitar. He also travels extensively with his family, aiming to expose his sons to diverse cultures and global perspectives.
These pastimes provide balance from Itkas’ demanding work schedule. They remind him what truly matters most – creating a better world for future generations.
Mike Itkas emerged as a compelling candidate whose background resonated with many voters. While his 2022 Congressional bid fell short, Itkas outperformed expectations. He provides a potential model for Republicans competing in Democratic strongholds.
Itkas’ traditional values combined with immigrant story and private sector success differentiate him from typical politicians. His real-world experience translates to practical policy solutions. Itkas has an intriguing future whether he remains in the political arena or not.
At just 55 years old, Itkas may take some time to consider next steps. But his competitive spirit and commitment to service suggest voters likely have not seen the last of this promising Republican leader. Itkas has already led an amazing life but his biggest chapters still may lie ahead.
Where is Mike Itkas originally from?
Itkas was born in 1968 in Odessa, Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union. His family immigrated to the United States when he was six years old.
What was Itkas’ background before politics?
Itkas served over 30 years in the U.S. Army Reserve, earning the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He also built a career in the finance industry and technology startups, serving as a CEO and entrepreneur.
What election did Mike Itkas run in?
In 2022, Itkas ran as the Republican nominee for New York’s 12th Congressional District against Democratic incumbent Carolyn Maloney. He lost by about 3 points.
What were some of Itkas’ key campaign issues?
Itkas focused heavily on inflation, crime, uniting Americans, and criticizing Democratic leadership failures. He ran a moderate campaign aimed at bipartisan appeal.
What might be next for Itkas politically?
Itkas is interested in running again for public office. He may launch another Congressional campaign in 2024 or run for citywide office in New York at some point.