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Democrat Suozzi returning to House after flipping New York seat

Special election followed expulsion of Republican George Santos in December

Democratic former Rep. Tom Suozzi won back the seat he gave up in 2022, flipping New York's 3rd District in a special election after the expulsion of Republican George Santos.
Democratic former Rep. Tom Suozzi won back the seat he gave up in 2022, flipping New York's 3rd District in a special election after the expulsion of Republican George Santos. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi will return to Congress after winning a special election to replace the expelled Rep. George Santos on Tuesday.

Suozzi, a former three-term House member from New York, defeated Republican Mazi Melesa Pilip, a Nassau County legislator, in the high-profile special election that was called by The Associated Press shortly after 10 p.m., when Suozzi had nearly 58 percent of the vote.

Suozzi gave up the 3rd District seat to run unsuccessfully for governor in 2022. During this year’s campaign, he touted his prior experience in Congress, which included serving on the Ways and Means Committee, where he sought to foster a reputation for bipartisanship. Suozzi said he would try to work with Republicans on issues like immigration, while also campaigning on issues important to the Democratic base like abortion rights and gun control. 

His win Tuesday gives Democrats a victory on Long Island, where Republicans had a series of wins in recent years before this special election. It also cuts House Republicans’ majority by one seat for the rest of the year.

The special election, which fell on the day of a snowstorm that contributed to low voter turnout, attracted national attention. While maps are expected to be redrawn, the 3rd District is a battleground seat that likely will also be competitive in November. The race offered a chance to test messages that could be a focus in other races this year, although officials from both parties said a win in the 3rd District on Tuesday would not predict which party controls the House next year. 

Outside groups reported spending $21.1 million, according to disclosures with the Federal Election Commission through Tuesday. The disclosures must note whether the money went for positive or negative messaging, and the vast majority, $17.1 million, was spent opposing one of the candidates.

Suozzi benefitted from the most spending, with $13.1 million going to oppose Pilip or support him. The other $8 million went to oppose Suozzi or support Pilip.

Voters in the district as it is currently drawn would have backed Joe Biden over Donald Trump in 2020 by 8 percentage points, but in the 2022 midterm elections Biden’s low popularity and public concerns about issues such as crime helped Santos win what was an open seat by a similar margin. 

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