New York voters are headed to the polls today in the critical special election to decide who gets to replace Republican fabulist George Santos after he was dramatically expelled from Congress.
Democrat Tom Suozzi and Republican Mazi Pilip are locked in a tight battle to fill the vacant seat that encompasses parts of Long Island and Queens.
The winner of the special election is critical as Republicans hold a razor-thin majority in the House and signals the mood of voters heading into the November elections.
The district was a Democrat stronghold for years before Republicans were able to flip it red in 2022 as part of a series of victories in the suburbs of New York, which have trended red in recent years.
However, Democrats believe they have a serious chance to reclaim the district after the fall of lying ex-congressman George Santos despite a tough political climate for Democrats with President Joe Biden in office.
A Democrat victory would further narrow the already slim GOP majority in the House as Republicans have just 219 seats while Democrats hold 212 seats and could signal hope for Democrats aiming to retake the House majority come November.
Polls in New York’s Third District opened at 6am ET and will remain open until 9pm ET. Voters also had more than a week to cast their ballots in early voting.
New York’s special election on February 13 is taking place in the Third District which includes parts of Long Island and Queens
Democrat Tom Suozzi speaking at a campaign event on Sunday Feb 11 as he seeks to fill the seat vacated by ex-congressman George Santos
Republican Mazi Pilip casting her ballot during early voting on February 9 as she campaigns in the special election for New York’s Third District seat
Mazi Pilip campaigning with the president of the National Border Patrol Council outside a migrant center. Border security has been a heated topic of debate in the NY special election
Democratic candidate Tom Suozzi, 61, is a former congressman who represented the district for three terms before a failed New York gubernatorial bid in 2022. He is a longtime Long Island politics staple, having previously served as Nassau County Executive and mayor of Glen Cove.
Republican candidate Mazi Pilip, 44, is the mother of seven and an Israeli-American born in Ethiopia who served in the Israel Defense Forces before immigrating to the US. She was elected to the Nassau County Legislature in 2021.
In the weeks leading up to Election Day, both candidates have gone on the attack as a series of recent polls have shown Suozzi and Pilip in a statistical dead-heat.
Pilip has been working to tie Suozzi, who served in the House from 2017 to 2023, to President Joe Biden, claiming he voted with the president ‘100 percent of the time.’
Suozzi has pushed back and avoided appearing with the president. Suozzi acknowledged on Monday that the president is underwater when it comes to his approval but noted so is Donald Trump.
At the same time, Suozzi has accused Pilip of being ‘Santos 2.0’ claiming she is unvetted, unprepared and vague on her record.
Santos became only the sixth House member ever expelled from Congress after serving just 11 months in office. He is facing multiple charges for fraud and theft and is accused of lying about nearly every aspect of his background.
Pilip, who remains a registered Democrat, has responded that she is ‘very much vetted’ and proud of her record while blasting Suozzi as an extremist career politician trying to run away from his record.
Suozzi previously served in Congress for three terms before launching a failed bid for governor. He is seen campaigning above in Glen Cove where he once served as mayor
Ex-GOP Congressman George Santos is accused of lying about nearly every aspect of his background. He’s facing multiple charges of fraud and theft with a trial set for later this year
Santos has said he would not be voting in the NY special election to replace him after he was expelled from Congress last year
George Santos tweeted after Republicans failed to impeach DHS Secretary Mayorkas highlighting that the vote failed. Republicans have vowed to try again, but it is unclear whether they will have the necessary votes with their slim majority
No issue has perhaps been more confrontational on the campaign trail than border security, which has also been front and center in Washington. Suozzi has expressed support for a bipartisan Senate bill to address the border and slammed Republicans unwilling to compromise on a deal.
Pilip does not support the bipartisan deal, one of the most conservative proposals in decades, claiming it would greenlight a migrant invasion.
The candidates have also clashed over abortion rights, gun safety and taxes as the 2017 tax law which capped the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, hit Long Islanders particularly hard.
Suozzi warns Pilip will help pass a national abortion ban, a potent line of attack Democrats have been making against Republicans since the Supreme Court overturned Roe. Pilip, who describes herself as pro-life, refutes his claim, saying she believes women have the right to make their own decision.
Pilip in turn accuses Suozzi of raising taxes. Suozzi has pushed back, pointing to his work to repeal the SALT cap during his time in Congress, an ongoing effort that has been unsuccessful for lawmakers so far.
On area where the candidates have found some common ground is on aid to Israel as the U.S. ally conducts a war in Gaza following the terror attack on October 7.
Suozzi has bucked Democrats in announcing he would support a standalone House Republican bill to provide aid to Israel.
He said he would prefer a more comprehensive approach also addressing Ukraine and Taiwan, but he would support one just for Israel. Pilip told Fox News over the weekend she would support the $95 billion bill that provides aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan if elected on Tuesday.
One of the most immediate partisan measures Pilip would have to vote on if elected would be the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas after a Republican effort to impeach failed dramatically earlier this month.
Last week, Republicans were short one vote but have vowed to try again with the help of Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., who was out for cancer treatment.
Pilip has committed to voting for impeachment, but if Suozzi wins the special election, Republicans are unlikely to have the votes to impeach for the remainder of this Congress.
After the first vote to impeach failed, Santos posted on X ‘Miss me yet?’
Several of his former Republican colleagues responded and retweeted to post, expressing concern over the GOP’s slipping majority.
In 2022, Santos won the district, which was redrawn after the 2020 census, with more than 53 percent of the vote to Democrat Robert Zimmerman’s 46 percent.
In December, the state’s highest court ordered the independent redistricting commission redraw the state’s congressional district boundaries for the November election. The commission has until February 28 to release the plan, but the ruling is expected to be more favorable for Democrats in the state.