George Santos replacement vote ramps up in heated fight for New York seat

Long Island, New York – Voters in suburban New York were choosing a congressman to replace scandal-plagued George Santos on Tuesday, with Democrats pouring cash into TV ads to try to take his seat from the Republicans in a charged election year.

Voters in New York's 3rd congressional district are choosing between Democrat Tom Suozzi (r.) and Republican Mazi Pilip (l.) to replace expelled congressman George Santos (inset r.).
Voters in New York's 3rd congressional district are choosing between Democrat Tom Suozzi (r.) and Republican Mazi Pilip (l.) to replace expelled congressman George Santos (inset r.).  © Collage: ADAM GRAY & POOL / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP, MANDEL NGAN / AFP

Democrat Tom Suozzi is facing off against Republican Mazi Pilip, with polls open despite heavy snow.

The winner of the special election will serve out the remaining 11 months of ousted Santos' term in the House of Representatives, where a Democrat victory would chip away at the Republicans' narrow majority.

Aggressive attack ads were run in the campaign, with Republicans seeking to paint Suozzi as soft on illegal immigration, while Democrats have sought to frame Pilip as an anti-abortionist.

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Migration and abortion are central political issues as the US limbers up for the presidential election, set to pit President Joe Biden against Donald Trump in a re-run of the 2020 contest.

One attack ad shows archive footage of Suozzi apparently boasting that he fought to keep immigration enforcement officers out of Nassau County when he was the area's top elected official.

Anti-Pilip ads have suggested she would seek a nationwide ban on terminations.

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Former Rep. George Santos after his fellow members of Congress voted to expel him from the House of Representatives in December.
Former Rep. George Santos after his fellow members of Congress voted to expel him from the House of Representatives in December.  © Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Deep snow in New York's third Congressional district, which includes eastern city suburbs and Long Island's wealthy North shore, threatened to complicate voting as authorities warned against driving. Both campaigns have responded by offering a dial-a-ride service for voters.

Santos became only the third person to be ejected as a US lawmaker since the Civil War, in a rebuke previously reserved for traitors and convicted criminals.

He had won a House seat in 2022, helping the Republicans to a tiny majority, but it quickly emerged that his backstory was largely a fabrication. He is currently facing 23 federal criminal charges including wire fraud, identity theft, and money laundering.

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"You, sir, are a crook," said one of several members of his own party to denounce him on the House floor last year over colorful fraud allegations.

Santos, who has denied criminal charges, allegedly used donor money for Botox treatments and the OnlyFans porn website, as well as luxury Italian goods and vacations, according to the committee that probed his conduct.

He has since kept himself busy making money on Cameo and posting social media rants.

While the constituency backed Biden in 2020, Republicans took several seats in the area in 2022 and have an effective local operation to get out the vote.

Cover photo: Collage: ADAM GRAY & POOL / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP, MANDEL NGAN / AFP

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