February 20, 2024

What to know about the special election to replace George Santos

A high-stakes special election in disgraced ex-Congressman George Santos’ former district is being held on Tuesday 13 February, in a race that can doubtless have main implications for nationwide politics.

The special election in New York’s 3rd Congressional district pits Republican newcomer Mazi Pilip up in opposition to Tom Suozzi, a former three-term congressman, who vacated the seat in 2021 to launch an unsuccessful run for governor.

Ms Pilip is an Ethiopian-born, former Israeli Defense Force paratrooper whose compelling backstory has Republicans touting her as a future star of the social gathering.

The by-election has taken on added significance due to Republicans’ slim majority in the House, and is shaping up as a bellwether for a way properly each events are faring forward of the 2024 basic election.

The marketing campaign has been dominated by nationwide points resembling border safety, abortion, the financial system and the Israel-Hamas battle.

Both events will probably be watching the outcomes carefully for any indicators that the candidates’ messaging on contentious points resonates with voters.

Mazi Pilip, centre, arrives to vote early at a polling station in Massapequa, New York, on Friday with former GOP congressman Peter King and Oyster Bay city supervisor Joseph Saladino


Recent polling has proven Mr Suozzi with a four point lead in a district that historically leans barely Republican, however the race is basically a toss-up.

Early voting is underway, and the outcomes will probably be introduced on Tuesday night time.

Here’s what to know about the election.

The key points

New York City’s migrant disaster has clearly been prime of voters’ minds, and each candidates have sought to stake out hardline approaches to border safety.

At the ultimate candidate debate on Thursday hosted by News 12, feelings ran excessive as Ms Pilip accused her rival of “opening the border”, raised his previous criticism of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and famous his support for sanctuary cities.

Mr Suozzi responded that his opposition to ICE officers in 2022 was due to the company not cooperating with native police, and mentioned he was considered one of solely 18 Democrats who backed persevering with funding for the company when he was in Congress.

He additionally identified Ms Pilip’s opposition to a bipartisan Senate bill that would have tightened border safety and supplied help to Israel and Ukraine. Republican support for the invoice vanished after Donald Trump got here out in opposition to it.

Tom Suozzi is an skilled political campaigner


The Democrat has additionally sought to distance himself from the Biden administration over its dealing with of the border.

“I support strong border security… and anything else you hear is garbage,” he says in a latest marketing campaign advert.

He additionally pointedly famous that he didn’t suppose it might be useful for President Joe Biden to marketing campaign in the district with him in a latest CNN interview.

An estimated 161,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York since April 2022, and the value of housing them has blown a multi-billion greenback gap in the metropolis’s funds.

At Thursday’s News 12 debate, the pair additionally clashed over the subject of abortion rights.

Ms Pilip, who has seven kids, reiterated her place that she wouldn’t support a nationwide aboriton ban, earlier than calling on Mr Suozzi to apologise for mendacity about her stance.

Rather than apologise, Mr Suozzi repeatedly questioned whether or not she was pro-choice and pressed her to state whether or not she would vote to codify abortion protections.

Contrasting candidates

Ms Pilip left Ethiopia at the age of 12, when she was amongst the 14,500 Jewish individuals airlifted out of the nation throughout Operation Solomon.

After serving in a gunsmith unit in the IDF, she earned a bachelor’s diploma in occupational remedy from the University of Haifa and a grasp’s in diplomacy and safety from Tel Aviv University.

Ms Pilip married a Ukrainian-American physician earlier than shifting to the US. She was first elected to the Nassau County legislature in 2021 and gained re-election late final yr.

Though operating as a Republican, Ms Pilip stays a registered Democrat. Her marketing campaign workforce has mentioned she opted to wait till after the election to formally change her social gathering affiliation to keep away from authorized problems that might doubtlessly knock her off the poll.

While the candidates have pushed their credentials as pragmatic moderates, their events have invested large quantities of cash in attempting to painting one another as on the fringes.

Democrats have spent $8m on political adverts portray Ms Pilip as a Maga extremist.

Mr Suozzi, a sophisticated public speaker and debater, has focused his opponent’s lack of expertise, and questioned her {qualifications} and talent to be an efficient operator in Washington.

He is well-known to voters in the district, having held elected workplace in the district for a lot of the previous three many years. In 1993, he was elected mayor of Glen Cove, on Long Island’s North Shore.

Republicans for his or her half have invested greater than $3m attempting to paint Mr Suozzi as on the excessive left.

During Thursday’s debate, he poked enjoyable at GOP efforts to solid him as aligned with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“(For) you to suggest that I’m a member of the Squad is about as believable as you being a member of George Santos’ volleyball team,” he mentioned.

Ms Pilip has gained endorsements from the Jewish Press, and the influential native paper, the North Shore Leader.

Mr Suozzi has the backing of the New York Daily News, and Newsday.

A rich, multicultural district

New York’s third Congressional district straddles the New York borough of Queens and Nassau County in Long Island and was the nation’s fourth wealthiest by median family earnings in 2022.

An estimated 11 per cent of the voting inhabitants are Jewish. The Israel-Hamas battle stirred excessive feelings in the district, and each candidates have pledged unwavering support for the US ally.

George who?

One factor is evident: New York’s third Congressional district is prepared to transfer on from the embarrassment of the scandal-plagued, federally-indicted George Santos.

In December, Mr Santos became only the sixth lawmaker ever to be expelled from the House of Congress after the launch of a damning House Ethics Committee report.

Two months earlier, he was charged with a host of fraud and dishonesty offences together with embezzling cash from his marketing campaign and mendacity to Congress about his wealth.

Just a few quips apart, Mr Santos has been largely nameless in debates and marketing campaign speeches by the two candidates.

The key query is whether or not voters are prepared to elect one other unknown amount in Ms Pilip.

Associated Press contributed to this report