U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi debates in the race for governor at the studios of WNBC4-TV June 16, 2022 in New York City.
Pool | Getty Images News | Getty Images
New York Democrats have selected former Rep. Tom Suozzi to be their party’s nominee in the upcoming special election to replace former GOP Rep. George Santos.
Nassau County and Queens County leaders gathered on Thursday and voted for Suozzi, who was widely expected to emerge as the party’s nominee. He previously represented the competitive 3rd District, which is based on Long Island, before leaving Congress last year to wage an unsuccessful run for governor.
“Tom Suozzi has a proven record of fighting for his constituents, fighting to safeguard our suburban way of life here on Long Island and Queens and always advocating for sensible solutions to the real challenges affecting everyday average Americans,” Nassau County Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs and Rep. Gregory Meeks, the Queens County Democratic chairman, said in a joint statement.
It’s not yet clear which Republican will face Suozzi during the Feb. 13 special election to replace Santos, who was expelled from the House after a scathing Ethics Committee report that found Santos appeared to break multiple federal laws in his 2022 campaign.
The special election is expected to be hotly contested — Santos was one of 18 Republicans representing districts that President Joe Biden won in 2020.
Republicans are expected to select their nominee early next week, according to Nassau County GOP spokesman Michael Deery. The Republican county party chairs will select a nominee, and party leaders have been interviewing more than 20 potential candidates this week.
Deery also confirmed that the party is working with a firm to conduct research on potential candidates to prevent a similar situation the GOP faced with Santos. After Santos was elected in 2022, news reports revealed that Santos had fabricated much of his background.
Other potential Republican candidates include retired New York police detective Mike Sapraicone and Nassau County legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip, who have both faced increased media scrutiny in recent days. Earlier this week, Politico reported that Pilip is actually a registered Democrat.
Politico also reported that Sapraicone was accused in a lawsuit of ignoring evidence and drawing a false confession as a detective. Sapraicone’s spokesperson told Politico the former detective was not aware of the lawsuit and that he “only worked in a supportive role during this case.”
Whoever Republicans pick will face a competitive race against Suozzi, who represented the 3rd District for three terms before leaving Congress to challenge New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul in a bitter primary.
Jacobs noted he had been consulting with Hochul as the party weighed picking a nominee. On Monday, Hochul summoned Suozzi to Albany and pressed him on his path to victory, according to a source familiar with the meeting.
Suozzi specifically pledged to support abortion rights and run a campaign that did not hurt the Democratic Party brand. Suozzi also apologized to Hochul for his negative primary campaign, according to the source. Hochul then signed off on his congressional run.
“We had a good meeting and cleared the air, and I appreciate her making the time,” Suozzi said in a statement regarding his meeting with Hochul. “At a time of strong political division I offered to be another moderate voice as the Governor works to solve problems and make progress.”
The New York Times first reported details of the meeting.
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