Suozzi vs. Pilip: The race to replace George Santos nears finish line

Suozzi vs. Pilip

Early voting for the special election to replace disgraced former U.S. Rep. George Santos will begin Feb. 3, and the official election will take place on Feb. 13.

Replacing Santos will either be former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) or Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip (R-Great Neck). Both were announced as the party’s nominees for the election in December, shortly following Santos’s expulsion.

Suozzi, who held the congressional seat between 2017 and 2023, said that he had a track record of working across the aisle. He cited a high bipartisan index ranking by the Luger Center, which uses bill sponsorship data to calculate congressional performance. In 2021, the center calculated that Suozzi was the 75th most bipartisan member in the House of Representatives, out of 435 members.

“I wrote an Op-Ed with Peter King, back in 2019, which talked about a bipartisan compromise to the immigration issue,” Suozzi told reporters in a Zoom press conference. “Peter King and I don’t have the same politics. But we found a path forward to have a bipartisan compromise on this issue.”

King was an honored guest at Pilip’s campaign launch, a fact which Suozzi acknowledged – but said that furthers his point of being able to work with anybody.

Suozzi has also hit out at Pilip for declining several debates with him as well as supposedly being media shy. Despite this, the pair are set for a Feb. 8 debate on News 12 Long Island, and Pilip acknowledged what is perceived as silence in an interview with the Long Island Press.

“I’m not a talker,” Pilip said. “Some people love to talk. I will talk when there is something to say.”

Pilip’s political career is remarkably short compared to Suozzi’s – she has only been a county legislator since 2022. Her campaign has instead focused on her personal background as an Ethiopian Jew who went to Israel during Operation Solomon and served in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) before emigrating to the United States.

Though Pilip is a registered Democrat holding office as a Republican, she has tried to tie Suozzi to the left-wing of the Democratic Party. Her campaign has claimed that he kicked Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) out of Nassau County.

Despite this, the Cook Political Report – among several other polls – have Suozzi narrowly winning the race, with David Wasserman of Cook writing that Democrats have reason for “cautious optimism.”

The winner of this election will still have to run in the standard primary and general elections this year.

Residents of Little Neck, Whitestone, Glen Oaks, Floral Park and Queens Village—along with residents of northern Nassau County—will have the chance to choose between the two candidates in the Feb. 13 general election. Early voting will be held between Feb. 3 and Feb. 11.