Special Election for Santos' Seat Could Get Feisty

Dems are looking to flip the district in hopes of flipping the House
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 6, 2023 1:30 PM CST
Special Election for Santos' Seat Could Get Feisty
Rep. George Santos, R-NY, faces reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Nov. 30, 2023. The special election to replace him will be held in February, and is already drawing much interest from both parties.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

A special election to pick a successor to George Santos, the New York Republican who was expelled from the US House last week, will be held on Feb. 13, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday. The race for a seat representing some Long Island suburbs and a small part of the New York City borough of Queens is expected to be a high-profile contest that will mark the start of a year of consequential congressional elections in the state, reports the AP. For Democrats, the election will be a test of the party's ability to flip districts around New York City that are seen as vital to their plans to retake control of the House. Republicans enter the contest with heavy momentum on Long Island and will fight to hold on to the district as they look to maintain their narrow House majority. Candidates in the special election will be picked by party leaders, not voters. Some contenders:

  • Former US Rep. Tom Suozzi has emerged as the potential frontrunner nominee for Democrats. Suozzi, 61, represented the district for six years before launching an unsuccessful campaign for governor last year. The centrist Democrat's deep ties in Long Island politics may provide name recognition and the ability to quickly stand up a campaign. Suozzi had announced his campaign for the seat before Santos was expelled.
  • Former state senator Anna Kaplan, also a Democrat, who has in recent days taken potshots at Suozzi's record and sought to center the special election on passing federal legislation guaranteeing abortion rights.

  • Retired police detective Mike Sapraicone, a Republican and founder of a private security company who says he's been interviewed by county Republicans who will select the nominee. Like Suozzi, Sapraicone launched his campaign before Santos was expelled and has already begun to fundraise, with his campaign coffers including $300,000 of his own money, he said.
  • Other GOP names include Air Force veteran Kellen Curry and Nassau County legislator Mazi Pilip, an Ethiopian-born Jewish woman who served in the Israeli military.

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Democrats want to flip at least five House seats in New York next year, with the Santos seat being a potential early indicator of their chances in November. The party has dedicated significant financial and organizational resources to the state, after a series of losses last year in the New York City suburbs helped Republicans take control of the House and brought down heavy criticism on state Democrats. President Biden won the district in 2020, but Republicans have notched major electoral gains on Long Island in recent years as moderate suburban voters have gravitated toward the GOP. In the latest sign of Republican strength on Long Island, the GOP won several local elections on the island last month, including races in the now-vacant district. (Santos is doing just fine financially after his ouster.)

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