DemDaily: Democrats Retake New York, Narrow House Majority

February 14, 2024

Democrat Tom Suozzi prevailed in New York's Third Congressional District special election yesterday, narrowing the GOP's already razor-thin House majority to 221-214, including three vacancies.

In the race to succeed disgraced Republican Congressman George Santos, Suozzi, a former three-term Congressman, defeated Republican nominee Mazi Pilip, an Ethiopian-born Nassau County legislator, 53.9% to 46.1%.

Santos, who faces 23 felony counts of fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft, among others, was historically expelled from Congress in December. An avid Trump supporter, Santos was elected to the Long Island-based Third District in 2022 -- defeating Democrat Rob Zimmerman (D) 53.8% to 46.2%.

Souzzi had held the seat since 2016 but left the House to run for governor, losing the Democratic nomination to incumbent Governor Kathy Hochul (D).

As redistricted, the battleground seat would have voted for Joe Biden by 8% in the 2020 presidential election but was one of five seats in the New York suburbs that flipped to the GOP in 2022, along with control of the House of Representatives.

As a competitive special election in a swing district, the race was closely watched as a bellwether for the mood of the electorate on key issues dominating the presidential election.

Immigration was center stage in the race and a sensitive subject in the New York suburbs, where more than 100,000 migrants have been bused in from the southern border. Republicans saturated the airwaves with attack ads about the migrant crisis.

Suozzi, however, successfully toed a moderate line, emphasizing that the border needed to be secured and reminding voters of his bipartisan credentials in Congress. He supported the congressional compromise deal that was nixed by Trump and hardline conservatives last week. Pilip, who emigrated to the US from Israel in 2005, said she would have voted against the bill.

The election was also the first test of voters since the October 7 assault on Israel by Hamas. In the Third District, 60% of voters support US aid to Israel and Jewish voters constitute 11% of the electorate. Pilip, an Orthodox Jew and veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, tried to paint her opponent as insufficiently supportive of Israel, but Souzzi, a staunch Israel supporter had traveled to the country to meet with family of Israeli hostages in December.

Democrats spent millions hammering Pilip on her association with Trump and the MAGA movement and their anti-abortion platform. Pilip identified as "pro-life," but said she would not support a national abortion ban while refusing to clarify what restrictions she would place on women's access to the procedure.

Souzzi had superior name recognition and fundraising advantage over Pilip, raising $4.5 million to her $1.3 million. According to AdImpact, Suozzi and Democratic-aligned PACs spent $14 million in ad buys compared to $8 million in ad spending by Pilip and her affiliated PACs.

National Democrats heralded the victory, buoyed by a winning message to moderate suburban voters who will be critical to Biden's reelection.

Of the significant win, Biden Campaign Manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said, “Donald Trump lost again tonight. When Republicans run on Trump’s extreme agenda -- even in a Republican-held seat -- voters reject them.”

DemDaily: The Race to Replace George Santos 1/30/24
DemDaily: The House Casualty List. The Update! 12/18/23
DemDaily: Congress Expels Santos! 12/1/23
DemDaily: Santos Scandal. The Con is Up! 5/11/23
DemDaily: Liars and Deniers 3/3/23

DemList will keep you informed.

Connecting You to The Party
Connecting You to Each Other

Kimberly Scott

Please Support DemList!

SignUp for the Daily updates on policy, politics and the players.
Follow DemList on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn

Sources: Politico, AdImpact, The Nation, The Washington Post, The Hill

Related posts

DemDaily: GOP Strikes Out!

DemDaily: GOP Strikes Out!

June 15, 2018 Democrats knocked Republicans out of the park, 21 to 5, in last night’s 57th annual Congressional Baseball Game. The GOP kicked off well with the most memorable play of the...


DemDaily: Off to the Races!

The 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby is this Saturday, May 7th, providing a welcome reprieve from the 24 hour presidential “horse race.”