Concerns Arise Among New York Democrats Ahead of Tuesday’s Special Election, and There Are Valid Reasons

Credits: CBS News

How dire were the 2022 midterm elections for New York Democrats? To put it bluntly, the victory of Republican George Santos in the state’s 3rd Congressional District may have been the most positive outcome for them throughout the year.

Santos faced difficulties just six weeks after his surprising win. Following a year marked by scandal and controversy that tarnished prominent local Republicans, Santos became one of only six members to be ousted from the House, the third since the Civil War. Consequently, the seat was left vacant, offering Democrats another chance.

However, the special election to replace the disgraced former congressman revealed that Santos’ triumph was not a mere stroke of luck or aberration. What had traditionally been a solidly Democratic suburban Long Island seat for the past three decades is once again evolving into a political battleground.

Democrats Expressing Concern (Credits: The Guardian)

In the lead-up to Tuesday’s closely contested match between Democrat Tom Suozzi, 61, a former House member and a fixture in Nassau County politics since his initial election as mayor of Glen Cove in 1993, and the relatively unknown Mazi Pilip, a 44-year-old Ethiopian-born, Israeli American county legislator, the race is considered a toss-up.

Suozzi maintains a strong political brand, having overseen the county during some of its most prosperous economic periods before his first congressional win in 2016.

However, Pilip, despite her somewhat unclear ideological stance and sporadic campaign appearances, benefits from prevailing political currents.

This race provides her with an opportunity to solidify the GOP’s renewed dominance on Long Island and potentially emerge as a rising national figure leading up to the general election in the fall.

A decade or more ago, the current political dynamics in the New York suburbs might have seemed implausible, much like Santos’ aspirations for a career as a Broadway producer. (Although less improbable 40 years ago when Republicans held sway here, and Ronald Reagan referenced Nassau County as a Republican utopia).

Yet, a series of crises, ranging from a housing and affordability crisis to more recent concerns about crime and immigration, have shifted the balance.

In 2024, Nassau County is sharply divided and, in a word, angry. It resembles many other places across the country that could play a pivotal role in determining President Joe Biden’s fate in the anticipated November rematch with former President Donald Trump.

“Long Island is running hot, and when people run hot, they run Republican,” noted Alyssa Cass, a Democratic strategist. “George Santos was not an accident. His election was the direct result of years and years of careful Republican recruitment, party building, and outreach in Long Island.”

I'm Richard Rosales, I cover political news and ongoing US elections.