Queens community leaders, political rivals react to George Santos’ expulsion from Congress

Photo by Michael Malaszczyk/Long Island Press

Following the expulsion of controversial Queens/Long Island Congressman George Santos from the House of Representatives Friday morning, several Queens community leaders and some of Santos’ political rivals were quick to react to the news.

Rep. George Santos leaves the Capitol after being expelled from the House of Representatives Friday, Dec. 1. The House has voted to expel Santos following a critical ethics report on his conduct that included converting campaign donations for his own use. AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough

Local elected officials, as well as those who have run or intend to run for Santos’ seat representing New York’s Third Congressional District, issued statements in light of the news.

“This is a much-needed step in our journey to repair a broken system,” said Tom Suozzi, Santos’ predecessor who is now running for the Democratic nomination for the seat. “We must move beyond our petty, partisan, performative finger-pointing and address the real problems Americans face. Let’s fix this!”

Michael Sapraicone, who is running for the Republican nomination for Santos’ seat, called Santos “a crook and fraudster who has no business serving in Congress”

“His expulsion underscores the will of New York’s Third Congressional District residents who have lacked true representation on Capitol Hill,” Sapraicone said. “I look forward to restore an honest, hardworking Republican voice for my neighbors.”

Kellen Curry, who is also running for the Republican nomination for Santos’s seat, said Santos’ ouster “closes an ugly chapter in our country’s politics and opens an opportunity to get our district back on track.”

“America is in desperate need of leadership. Today marks the beginning of a renewed focus on the issues that matter, instead of the distraction of the last 11 months,” Curry said. “NY-3 constituents are calling for experienced, next generation leaders to serve in Congress who will fight to keep us safe, control spending and bring people together around a shared vision of getting America back on track. I’m humbled to step forward to be that leader.”

Fellow NY-03 Republican candidate Tom Ludwig said Santos’ expulsion is “the first step in restoring trust for the district.”

“As a proud Special Forces veteran with a proven track record of leadership in combat and strategic operations, I understand the importance of trust, integrity and unwavering commitment to the well-being of our nation,” Ludwig said. “The recent expulsion of my predecessor has rightfully left constituents disillusioned and questioning the integrity of our elected officials. I am ready to lead in Congress, just like I have led American troops on four continents. My extensive experience in command, coupled with the highest levels of security clearance, has prepared me to navigate the complexities of governance with an unwavering commitment to honesty and ethical conduct. In Congress, I will tirelessly work to restore the trust that has been broken by championing legislation that ensures accountability, transparency and puts the needs of the American people first.”

Robert Zimmerman, who ran against Santos in the 2022 general election as the Democratic nominee called Friday “a day of reflection on how we move forward.”

“For almost a year, Republicans kept George Santos in office in exchange for his vote while our Congressional District lacked representation and essential constituent services. We must stand up to extremism by reclaiming our democracy and voice in Washington. We must hold accountable those Republicans who have been accomplices to Santos’ crimes by protecting and defending him,” Zimmerman said. “It is incumbent upon all Democrats to unite in support of a candidate committed to restoring respect and decency for our congressional district in the upcoming special election. However, we need to ensure we are not rewarding those who perpetuated the divisive rhetoric that led us to where we are today.”

“For nearly a year, the residents of New York’s Third Congressional District have been saddled with the fraudster George Santos as our Congressman – all because the GOP needed his reliable vote to shore up their political weakness,” Concerned Citizens of NY-03 said in a statement. “Finally, when they could no longer hide behind the House Ethics Committee’s months-long ongoing investigation, the GOP relented and decided it was time to support the expulsion of George Santos. Today we rejoice at Santos’ ouster.  We say ‘Good Riddance’ to George Santos! And, may he go to prison for his crimes against our community and our democracy.”

Concerned Citizens of NY-03 also voiced their support for legislation H.R.350: the Stopping Another Non-Truthful Office Seeker (SANTOS) Act. Introduced by Representatives Dan Goldman and Ritchie Torres in January, the legislation is aimed at protecting against future imposter candidates. It would create new reporting requirements about a candidate’s educational background, military service and employment history.  

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul also offered her thoughts on the embattled Congressman’s expulsion during an appearance on NY1.

“When you look at his lack of ethics and the fact that he has not served the people of our state, particularly New York 3 where he resides, it’s been an abysmal run for him,” Hochul said. “And he has not done what he has to do for New Yorkers. I’m glad he’s gone because I need people I can work with to fight for New York, to bring federal money to our state, to create jobs and opportunities. And George Santos just took up space.”

Anthony Nunziato, chairman of the Queens County Republican Party, was not as welcome to the news of Santos being expelled. He felt that with an election already set for 2024, it should have been up to the people of NY-03 to decide whether or nor they still wanted Santos. However, he still respects the decision made by Congress to boot out Santos.

“If that’s what his fellow peers said, we’ll go by it,” Nunziato said. “We have other candidates coming and look forward to another Republican taking the seat. I’m not agreeing with the way he got into office, but I believe they should have let him finish out the term and let the constituents vote somebody else in. The constituents put him in and they should have put him out.”

Santos becomes just the sixth member of the House to be expelled, joining John B. Clark and John W. Reid of Missouri (1861), Henry Burnett of Kentucky (1861), Michael Myers of Pennsylvania (1980) and James Traficant of Ohio (2002). A special election will be held to replace Santos in early 2024.

A total of 311 representatives voted in favor of Santos’ expulsion, including 206 Republicans and 105 Republicans. Of the 114 who voted against Santos’ expulsion, 112 were Republicans and 2 were Democrats. Another two Democrats voted present.

New York’s Third Congressional District consists of the Queens neighborhoods of Little Neck, Whitestone, Glen Oaks, Floral Park and Queens Village, as well as Oyster Bay Cove, Old Brookville, Levittown, Glen Cove, Roslyn, Manhasset, Plainview, Bethpage, Port Washington, Hicksville, Jericho, Syosset, Mineola, Farmingdale, Massapequa Park and Great Neck in Nassau County.