Updated Feb 13, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Democrats flip George Santos' former House seat

Rep. Tom Suozzi, wearing a brown jacket over a blue fleece, standing in front of campaign signs and a blue backdrop.

Rep. Tom Suozzi. Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday won back his old House seat in a contested special election to replace expelled Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), AP projects.

Why it matters: Suozzi's win cuts into House Republicans' thin majority and may raise alarm bells for them ahead of November.

  • Suozzi faced Mazi Melesa Pilip, an Ethiopian-born Israeli Defense Force veteran and Nassau County legislator.

What they're saying: "This race was centered on immigration and the economy, much like the issues all across our country," Suozzi told supporters after Pilip conceded the race.

  • "We won this race — we, you won this race, because we addressed the issues and we found a way to bind our divisions," he said.
  • Suozzi acknowledged the brief interruption of his victory speech by protesters who were critical of his support for Israel by noting divisions in the U.S.
  • "People can't even talk to each other. All they can do is yell and scream at each other," he said. "That's not the answer to the problems we face in our country. The answer is to try and bring people together to try and find common ground.
  • "The way to make our country a better place is to try and find common ground. It is not easy to do. It is hard to do," Suozzi added.

The backdrop: Both parties cast themselves as the underdog going into this nationally watched election.

  • The race road tested their respective messages on immigration, abortion and the economy in a district won by President Biden in 2020.
  • Republicans will have to defend 17 similar suburban, Biden districts across the country in November — with the president likely on the ballot.

Zoom in: Election day voting was impacted by a snow storm.

  • Congressional Leadership Fund, House Republicans' primary PAC, hired multiple private snowplow companies to plow public streets around voting areas, a CLF spokesperson told Axios.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from former Rep. Tom Suozzi.

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