Updated Dec 1, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Who could replace George Santos now that he’s been expelled from Congress

Santos, wearing a red sweater, behind closing elevator doors.

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) on Nov. 1 after House floor debates on a resolution to expel him from Congress. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) was expelled from Congress on Friday, which means a special election will soon be scheduled to fill the vacancy in New York's third Congressional district.

Why it matters: Democrats are vying to re-claim a district that President Biden carried in 2020, while Republicans are hoping to keep the seat that Santos flipped.

  • New York House seats have also become an unusual battleground for a favorably blue state, in part due to redistricting. Democrats have cited midterm losses in the state as contributing to Republicans narrowly gaining the House majority.

Catch up quick: The House on Friday voted 311-114 to expel Santos over his many fabrications as a candidate and his two federal indictments.

  • The contents of an Ethics Committee report — which found that Santos "blatantly stole" from his campaign — caused several lawmakers who had previously voted against his expulsion to change their tune.
  • Santos beat Democrat Robert Zimmerman by a 54% to 46% margin to flip the seat in 2022.

Santos' expulsion will trigger a special election

  • New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) is required by state law to proclaim a special election within 10 days of Santos' seat becoming vacant.
  • Hochul said on Friday that she's "prepared to undertake the solemn responsibility of filling the vacancy." She added: "The people of Long Island deserve nothing less."
  • The election is to be held between 70 and 80 days.
  • Multiple candidates have announced bids for Santos' seat in 2024, but special election candidates would be selected by local party leaders.

Former Rep. Tom Suozzi wants his old seat back

  • Suozzi (D-N.Y.) announced that he'd run for his old seat in October. He represented New York's third congressional district from 2017 to 2023.
  • Suozzi beat Santos by nearly 13 points in 2020 before retiring from Congress to challenge Hochul in the 2022 governor's race.

Former. State Sen. Anna Kaplan has flipped an office before

  • Kaplan (D) endorsed reproductive rights, gun safety and economic development as the first political refugee and Iranian-American elected to the New York State Senate.
  • She flipped her New York Senate seat red to blue in 2018, and is hoping to do the same with Santos' seat.

Newly elected State Sen. Jack Martins under consideration

  • Martins (R) has been discussed as a potential GOP special election candidate, Newsweek reported. He has called Santos a "fraud" and said he would not work with him.
  • He also called for Santos' resignation.

Mazi Melesa Pilip floated as Republican option

  • A Nassau County, N.Y., legislator, who served in the Israel Defense Forces, Pilip (R) is also being considered by Republicans, Semafor reported.
  • Born in Ethiopia, she was airlifted to Israel as a child.

Other candidates have put in bids for 2024

Seven Democrats and nine Republicans were running for Santos' spot in 2024, as of Nov. 5, according to Ballotpedia, including Suozzi and Kaplan.

  • Austin Cheng (D) is a U.S. Army veteran and attorney who advocates for health care reform, according to his campaign website.
  • Kellen Curry (R), a U.S. Air Force Academy alumnus, served in Afghanistan and was a VP at J.P. Morgan, per his campaign website.
  • Jim Toes (R), who describes himself as a "political outsider," is the president and CEO of the Security Traders Association in the financial services industry.
  • Mike Sapraicone (R) is a retired NYPD detective with an interest in security issues, according to his campaign website.
  • Greg Hach (R), who has never run for political office, is a small business owner, U.S. Air Force veteran and attorney specializing in workplace injury.
  • Steve Behar (D) is a small business owner and attorney who has served as counsel to the New York State Senate and New York City Council, according to his campaign website.

Of note: William Murphy (D), an attorney and St. John's University criminal justice and legal studies professor, had entered the race earlier this year but dropped his bid.

What to watch: Zimmerman, Santos' Democratic opponent in 2022, hasn't declared his candidacy.

  • But the longtime Democratic insider could also throw his hat in the ring or be tapped by party leaders to avenge his loss.

Go deeper: GOP anxiety surrounds potential George Santos expulsion

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect Tom Suozzi's name spelling and that William Murphy dropped his bid to enter the race. It was also updated with news that the House voted to expel Santos on Dec. 1 and a statement from Gov. Hochul.

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