Local party leaders are weighing several Republicans and Democrats to succeed former GOP Rep. George Santos of New York following his expulsion from the lower chamber on Friday.
Santos was removed from Congress by a 311 to 114 vote after the House Ethics Committee released a damning report alleging there was “substantial evidence” the member broke the law via fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and more.
Now that New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul set a Feb. 13 date for the special election on Tuesday, Republican and Democratic Party leaders in Long Island’s Nassau County and Queens County will likely pick their respective nominees soon to compete for the battleground district.
Air Force veteran and former JP Morgan Vice President Kellen Curry, who was the first Republican to challenge Santos back in April, is among the candidates vying for the nomination. Curry believes he is well-positioned to secure the nomination and win the special election due to the length of his campaign, his background and more, he told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“We have a unique candidacy in a number of ways. It would be a historic election to have the first black Republican from Long Island. And of course, we’re the only campaign with endorsements from sitting members of Congress and [sic] so much about my background aligns with the issues of the day,” said Curry. “We feel very good about where we are.”
Retired NYPD detective Michael Sapraicone is another prominent Republican already running for the seat. State Sen. Jack Martins, who ran for the seat and lost in 2016, and Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip are also reportedly being considered.
Tom Suozzi, the former Democratic congressman who held Santos’ seat from 2016 to 2022, is rumored to be the leading candidate for the nomination, according to multiple reports. Suozzi withstood a challenge from Santos in 2020, where he won by over 12 points, and sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 2022, which he eventually came in third for.
Former state Sen. Anna Kaplan and Army veteran Austin Cheng are also among the notable Democrats in the race.
New York’s 3rd Congressional District had been represented by a Democrat for a decade prior to Santos’ win in the 2022 midterms, where he flipped the seat by nearly 8 points. The district currently has about 225,000 registered Democratic voters compared to 162,000 Republican, according to the state’s board of elections.
The Cook Political Report moved Santos’ seat to the “Toss Up” category for 2024 after previously being under the “Lean Democrat” column prior to his expulsion. All other Republican-held seats that will be open next Fall are characterized as “Solid Republican.”
Whoever wins the special election will have to defend their post in the June primary if challengers emerge, and then on election day in November.
Santos was indicted in May over allegations of fraud, and was hit with a 23-count superseding indictment in October with additional related charges, all of which the congressman pleaded not guilty to.
The congressman “blatantly stole from his campaign,” “deceived donors,” “reported fictitious loans” and carried out “fraudulent or otherwise questionable business dealings,” the House Ethics Committee’s Nov. 16 report alleged.
Santos has also been accused of embellishing certain aspects of his personal life, as well, including where he attended college, his career and family members.
Sapraicone, Martins, Pilip, Suozzi, Kaplan and Cheng did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
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