Suozzi wins special election to replace George Santos

Suozzi at his victory party after being elected as the Representative for the Third District in New York. Photo Courtesy of Anthony Izaguirre and Will Weissert/Associated Press (AP).

By Briana Leibowicz Turchiaro

Boston University News Service

Former Congressman George Santos has officially been replaced by Tom Suozzi as the United States Representative for the third district in New York. The tense race between Tom Suozzi and Mazi Pilip to replace Santos was finalized Tuesday, Feb. 13. 

Santos represented the third district in New York in 2023 from January to December until he was expelled from Congress in December 2023. 

Santos, the son of immigrants and a Queens, New York native, is a member of the Republican party and is known for his opposition to far-left ideologies. Santos began his time in Congress making history as the first openly gay Republican elected into Congress, but he eventually marked history by becoming the sixth House member ever to be expelled from Congress. 

The controversy with Santos began soon after he began his position in Congress when a New York Times report revealed that a large part of Santos’ biography contained false statements about his life that could not be substantiated. His lies made him lose credibility and trust from the public and his fellow members of Congress. 

The former congressman has been accused of many lies, amongst them were receiving degrees at Baruch College and New York University, both of which he was never enrolled in; working at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, neither of which could verify his employment; and having Jewish heritage, which he does not have and later claimed to have been misinterpreted when he meant to say he was ‘Jew-ish.’

His reputation was further damaged when he was indicted later that year in May 2023, with thirteen criminal charges, and when he was met with ten additional charges in October 2023. Santos has been charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds, amongst other offenses. 

Due to the lies and charges that Santos was facing, the members of the House of Representatives expelled Santos from the House with a vote of 311-114 on Dec. 1, 2023. 

Following the expulsion of Santos, the House called for a special election for a replacement for the remaining time Santos had left in Congress. This is a particularly interesting election because it involves one of the most highly disputed districts, New York’s third congressional district. 

The New York third congressional district is a very affluent district that has a history of being a swing district, meaning that it is not historically tied to only one political party. Its affluence makes it a powerful district for the Republican and Democratic parties to hold. According to Forbes, it was also the fourth wealthiest district in 2022, which adds to the power it holds. 

The candidates that were running to replace Santos were Mazi Pilip, a first-term Republican Nassau County Legislator, and Tom Suozzi, a three-term Democrat Congressman. 

Mazi Pilip is a relative newcomer in politics and currently represents the 10th district in New York. She is an Ethiopian Jew who immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia when she was twelve years old and later immigrated to the U.S. in 2005. She holds dual citizenship in Israel and the United States.

There was controversy surrounding Pilip’s candidacy because, when she first arrived in the U.S., she was a registered Democrat. However, she recently told CBS that her views currently align more closely with the Republican party.

Some of the political views Pilip has described are the right to bear arms, but not automatic assault weapons, and her support of Israel during their war against Hamas. 

Pilip was confronted with her views regarding abortion as she is pro-life but is against a national abortion ban, as she believes abortion should remain a personal decision. This was a controversial response given that most members of the Republican party are strongly against abortion. 

Suozzi was the other candidate running for Congress. He has been working in the House of Representatives since 2016 when he was elected as the representative for New York’s third congressional district. 

Suozzi has also been elected to three terms in Congress and worked as the vice chair of the Problem Solver Caucus, a group in the House of Representatives made up of Democrats and Republicans dedicated to fostering bipartisan cooperation on political issues. 

Suozzi successfully won the special election held on Tuesday, Feb. 13, marking New York’s third congressional district as a current Democratic district. 

“It’s time to move beyond the petty partisan bickering and the finger-pointing. It’s time to focus on how to solve the problems, it’s time to get to work on immigration, on Israel, on combatting Putin, on helping the middle class, and on getting the state and local tax deduction back,” Suozzi said during his victory speech on Feb. 14. “Let’s send a message to our friends running the Congress these days. Stop running around for Trump and start running the country.” 

Suozzi holds a strong opposition to political parties getting too engrossed in being seen as the better political party, instead of focusing on resolving issues in the United States. 

Pilip posted that same day about her appreciation for the race and congratulated Suozzi on the victory. 

“I want to thank the voters of the 3rd Congressional District for participating in the special election. The race allowed me an opportunity to discuss the issues that are important to the future of our nation, Pilip said on her Facebook account on Feb. 14. “I congratulate Tom Suozzi on his victory. I will work with Mr. Suozzi and all elected officials, as well as members of the community to ensure a bright and promising future. Thank you.” 

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