Former Santos District Swings Blue; Suozzi Returns to Washington

Image Credit to Jens Junge on Pixabay

This week saw a special election in New York’s 3rd Congressional District, formerly represented by disgraced Congressman George Santos. Due to his expulsion from Congress, the seat had remained empty since last December. Regarding national politics, this win for the Democratic Party means regaining control of the House of Representatives. Tom Suozzi, who previously represented New York’s 3rd, won by a clear but close margin, receiving 56% of the vote. Mazi Melesa Pilip was the Republican nominee and a newcomer in congressional politics. Though previously a registered Democrat, she was endorsed by Long Island Republicans like Representatives Anthony D’Espisito and Nick LaLota. 

Suozzi has been a long-time key player in the New York Democratic Party, having run two unsuccessful gubernatorial campaigns in 2006 and 2022 and four successful campaigns to represent New York’s 3rd. Ironically, his failed bid for Governor led to Santos winning the seat in 2022. Suozzi and Santos previously faced each other in the 2020 House race. The former won decidedly, with 56% of the vote. When facing Robert Zimmermann in 2022, and not Suozzi, Santos won the seat in what was considered an upset with 53% of the vote. 

The escapades of former Representative Santos need no introduction. Santos’s rap sheet is a mile long, from wire fraud claims to multiple false identities to improper use of campaign funds. Though his tenure in Congress lasted less than a year, his impact will be long-lasting, showing the further divide within the Republican party between the old-guard and Trump factions. After his ousting, Long Island Republicans tried removing themselves from Santos. Representative Nick Langworthy claimed, “We can’t demand a better Congress and a more transparent Congress if we allow this to remain a tumor in our conference…” However, the results of this election indicate that voters are wary of the GOP after Santos’s tenure. 

The results also implicate a broader change in national politics. Both candidates appeared to moderate within their respective parties, Suozzi being a “staunch supporter of Israel…” and “…. saying he wants no conditions on U.S. aid to the Jewish state,” and Pilip not being adamantly anti-choice, for one. Despite outspending Pilip in terms of advertisement, Suozzi ran without any endorsements from powerful Democrats in his state like Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor of New York Eric Adams. 

Endorsements can often change the outcome of key races, just as when former President Trump endorsed a then-unknown George Santos. Pilip, however, did not seek a Trump endorsement, and after her loss, he took to Truth Social and wrote, “I have an almost 99% Endorsement Success Rate in Primaries… but just watched….Mazi Melesa Pilip, running in a race where she didn’t endorse me and tried to ‘straddle the fence,’ when she would have easily WON if she understood anything about modern-day politics in America.”

Does he have a point? One has to wonder if the results for New York’s 3rd further prove the apparent shift in the Republican party and indicate future election results.