The GOP May Not Lose George Santos’s House Seat After All

Last year, House Republicans joined with Democrats in shrinking the GOP majority by expelling Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) despite having been neither charged with nor convicted of a crime. Democrats have faced worse accusations and remained in their seats. 

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Rep. Jamal Bowman (D-N.Y.) faced no such consequences for pulling a fire alarm to delay a House vote, even though that action violated local and federal law. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) was indicted on federal bribery charges and has yet to be expelled from the Senate. “He has a right to due process and a fair trial,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. It’s funny how that works, right? Only Democrats are entitled to due process.

Be that as it may, Santos’ expulsion from the House created an air of inevitability that the seat, which would be filled by a special election, would ultimately go back under Democratic control. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time for such a thing to happen. Democrats, under the dark cloud of scandal, tend to get reelected, while Republicans lose their seats and flip to Democrats, even if only briefly.

But it’s not a surefire thing that Democrats will win back the seat. According to a report from CNN, the Democratic candidate vying to fill the vacant seat is voicing concern about his chances for victory in the crucial swing district. 

New York Democrats have nominated former congressman Tom Suozzi to run for the seat, and the party is vastly outspending Republicans in the race, but with roughly a week before the election, Democrats are, in the words of CNN, “sounding the alarm.”

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“It’s a very tough seat,” Suozzi told CNN. “Democrats have been losing everything on Long Island and northeast Queens for the past three years. The Democratic brand is in trouble here, and we have to do a lot to overcome that.”

Why is the Democratic brand in trouble? Joe Biden.

The blunt warning from Suozzi underscores what officials in both parties are seeing in the closing days of the race: Voter anger over the handling of the southern border has become a central issue — especially as scores of migrants have been sent to New York, many of whom now live in this district that encompasses parts of Queens and Long Island. It’s a strategy that mirrors the GOP’s successful campaigns from 2022 when Republicans railed on crime in New York City — something Suozzi concedes still hurts the Democratic brand.

It’s Suozzi who now has endured an onslaught of GOP attacks over immigration — forcing him to put out two ads defending himself — as he tries to seize on the issue by promoting his own push for legislative action and support for the Senate’s bipartisan deal.

And the 61-year-old Suozzi — a former county executive who represented the 3rd congressional district for six years before launching an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2022 — is doing all this as he tries to keep his distance from an unpopular president of his own party, whom Republicans are trying to tie to him.

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Joe Biden is so problematic right now that Suozzi has already written off the idea of Biden coming in to campaign for him. “I can pretty much guarantee the president is not going to be coming to campaign,” Suozzi told CNN. “I don’t think it would be helpful, just as I don’t think Donald Trump would be helpful to my opponent.”

Suozzi’s opponent, newcomer Mazi Melesa Pilip, a 44-year-old Ethiopian-born Israeli immigrant who served in the Israel Defense Forces, disagrees and has embraced Trump on the campaign trail.

Related: Meet the Totally Badass Republican Mom of Seven Running for that Santos Seat

“He’s a great president,” she said.

When asked if she’d want Trump to campaign for her, Pilip said, “Of course, he’s welcome to help me… if he can come to help me, I will appreciate that.”

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