Home » Blog » Who Will Replace George Santos in New York Swing District?
Featured General News Global News New York News Politics United States

Who Will Replace George Santos in New York Swing District?

The expulsion of George Santos from Congress on Friday has ramifications beyond the New York Republican’s future career prospects.

The historic vote has sparked a scramble among Democrats and Republicans to elect a replacement for Santos, who was found by an ethics committee report to have used campaign funds for purchases, with a special election likely to take place early next year.

Given Santos’s troubles – the notoriously dishonest former-congressman also faces 23 federal charges including fraud and conspiracy – several candidates had already announced they would run for his seat in New York’s third congressional district.

With New York legally required to hold a special election in less than 90 days, the race for Santos’s Long Island district, which voted for Joe Biden in 2020 and was represented by Democrats for 10 years before swinging Republican last year, has dramatically accelerated.

There will be no primary in the special election. Instead local Democratic and Republican party leaders will choose the parties’ nominees to replace Santos in a finely balanced House of Representatives – Santos’s expulsion reduced Republicans’ advantage over Democrats in the House of Representatives eight seats: 221-213. Democrats are expected to announce their nominee on Tuesday, with Republicans also likely to reveal their candidate soon.

The Democrats

Tom Suozzi appears to be the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. He was elected to the third congressional district in 2017, but declined to run in 2022, instead announcing a run for governor of New York state. Born and raised in the area, Suozzi announced a bid to reclaim his seat in October.

“You know me. I’ve never sat on the sidelines,” Suozzi said in his announcement. A centrist Democrat, he added that “more common sense and compassion” was required in politics, and “less chaos and senseless fighting”.

Multiple reports have said Suozzi will be chosen to run, despite a sometimes bitter gubernatorial campaign. Suozzi, 61, repeatedly clashed with Kathy Hochul, the ultimate victor, which did not endear him to Democratic leaders, but his relatively high profile as a former congressman could help.

Anna Kaplan, like Suozzi, had announced she was running to replace Santos before he was kicked out of Congress on Friday. Kaplan ran for the third congressional district in 2016 – an election Suozzi ultimately won – before being elected to the New York state senate in 2019.

She lost a re-election bid in 2022 amid a Republican wave in Long Island that swept Santos into the House, and in May this year Kaplan said she would run against Santos.

“For me, this congressional district is very, very personal. I left a country where I saw the rightwing extremists taking over and stripped women of their rights,” Kaplan, who was born in Iran and moved to the US as a 13-year-old, told City & State New York earlier this year.

Robert Zimmerman, the Democratic nominee in 2022 who lost to Santos by seven points, hasn’t announced a run for the third congressional seat, but Axios reported he “could be tapped by party leaders”.

Austin Cheng, an army veteran and healthcare CEO, would be a fresher face. The City reported that as of 30 September Cheng had raised the most cash of any of the Democratic candidates – but that might be irrelevant now that party leaders will choose the candidate.

The Republicans

Mazi Pilip is among a reported “10 to 15” candidates being considered by the local Republican party. A local politician in Nassau county, which makes up much of the third congressional district, she has relatively little political experience and has not declared her candidacy.

Pilip was born in Ethiopia and moved to Israel when she was 13 years old, going on to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. A vocal supporter of Israel, in November she joined with other local legislators in calling for the pro-Palestinian group Students for Justice In Palestine to be banned from university campuses and potentially prosecuted.

Mike Sapraicone, a former New York police department detective, is “near the top” of the list being considered by Republicans, according to the New York Times. Sapraicone, who founded a security business after leaving the NYPD, announced his run for Santos’s seat in October.

“I think running a business teaches you how to understand people and work together,” Sapraicone told Fox5 NY.

Sapraicone’s background as a police officer, and his deep pockets – he has lent his campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars – “could be helpful in a region where public safety has been a top electoral concern and TV ads are expensive”, the Times reported.

Jack Martins, who won his seat in the New York state senate by defeating Anna Kaplan last year, is another potential nominee. A longtime fixture in New York Republican circles, he ran for Congress in 2016, losing to Suozzi.

ABC7 New York reported that Martins, who described Santos as “a fraud” earlier this year, “​​seems hesitant to run, but may be pulled into a special election to hold the seat”.

Source: The Guardian