Tom Suozzi defeats Mazi Pilip in special election to replace George Santos

Photo by Michael Malaszczyk

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) has defeated Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip (R-Great Neck) in the special election to replace disgraced former Rep. George Santos in New York’s third congressional district.

The Associated Press declared Suozzi the winner shortly after 10 p.m.

The third district covers the neighborhoods of Little Neck, Whitestone, Glen Oaks, Floral Park and Queens Village in northeast Queens, as well as the entirety of the Towns of North Hempstead and Oyster Bay. With Suozzi’s election, he is now the sole Democratic congressman on Long Island, with the three other seats being held by Republican Reps. Anthony D’Esposito, Andrew Garbarino, and Nick LaLota.

Suozzi was greeted to an enthusiastic crowd when he gave his victory speech at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.

“Despite all the attacks, all the lies about Tom Suozzi and the squad, being the godfather of the migrant crisis, about sanctuary Suozzi, despite the dirty tricks… we won!” Suozzi said

Suozzi held this seat from 2017 to 2023, and comfortably won election to it three times – perhaps most notably when he defeated the then-unknown Santos in 2020. However, Suozzi’s elections to the district were prior to the 2022 redrawing of the district’s lines. With Santos’s large margin of victory over Democrat Robert Zimmerman in 2022, and Suozzi’s slim margin of victory over Pilip, the new district, which now includes portions of southeast Nassau County such as Levittown and Massapequa, may be more of a swing district than it was under Suozzi’s previous tenure.

Pilip concedes to Suozzi just before 10:30 p.m. saying she has called her opponent to congratulate him.

“I am so proud to be a part of the Republican party and I thank everyone for their hard work,” says Pilip.

Suozzi, who served as mayor of Glen Cove from 1994 to 2001 and Nassau County executive from 2002 to 2009, takes office almost immediately. Since this was a special election to fill out the remainder of Santos’s term since he was expelled in December, Suozzi will still have to run in November.

Santos won election to the seat in November of 2022. Most of his background was exposed as fabrications by the New York Times the next month. He took office in January, but soon saw himself facing up to 23 federal counts of campaign finance fraud, and following a scathing House Ethics report in November of 2023, he was expelled from Congress.