Dems ready to nominate ex-Rep. Suozzi to reclaim expelled Santos seat


The Democratic Party by mid-week will nominate a candidate to run in the special election early next year to replace expelled serial liar and criminal defendant Rep. George Santos — and it’s all but certain to be former Congressman Tom Suozzi, sources said Sunday.

State Democratic Democratic Party Chairman and Nassau County leader Jay Jacobs said the decision could come as early as Tuesday and no later than Wednesday.

In a telling sign, Jacobs said Gov. Hochul has no interest in blocking Suozzi’s bid despite the fact that he ran a primary campaign against her last year.

Suozzi ran to the right of Hochul on issues such as public safety — including the unpopular cashless bail law — which Republican Lee Zeldin used against her in the general election.

But Jacobs said Democrat Hochul, a former Buffalo-area congresswoman, wants her party to win the seat.  

“It’s not in the governor’s character to hold a grudge. It’s not who she is. She’s looking for the candidate with the best chance of winning. She’s made that clear to me,” Jacobs said.

Democratic Party insiders in the 3rd Congressional District that covers Long Island and parts of Queens said there’s little doubt Suozzi will get the nomination.

Former Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi is set to be the Democratic nominee to replace disgraced ex-Rep. George Santos. AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
Santos became the sixth member to be expelled from the House of Representatives after a vote last week. Xinhua/Shutterstock

Sources said House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have made clear they want Suozzi — a moderate Democrat and proven vote-getter in prior races for the House and Nassau County executive — to get the nomination.

Queens Democratic Party leader, Rep. Gregory Meeks, is also on board with Suozzi.

“There’s no question it will be Tom. Hakeem and the DCCC are driving this process,” one Democratic source familiar with the deliberations said.

The Republican parties in Nassau and Queens are expected to name a candidate to replace Santos by week’s end.

Suozzi challenged Gov. Kathy Hochul in the 2022 gubernatorial Democratic primary. AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

The GOP leaders got burned for failing to properly vet the fabulist Santos — who lied about virtually every aspect of his life — and have said that won’t happen again.

A screening committee is interviewing more than two-dozen wannabes who’ve expressed interest in running for the seat — though since it’s a special election, only one will be chosen.

GOP insiders said candidates in the top tier for consideration include Nassau County legislator Mazi Pilip, an Ethiopian-Israeli American who is a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces; state Sen. Jack Martins and retired NYPD Detective and security consultant Mike Sapraicone.

The replacement sign outside of Santos’ former 3rd Congressional District office in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill. Tierney L. Cross – CNP

Nassau County Republican Chairman Joseph Cairo said he has an open mind.

“We may have an unknown diamond in the rough,” Cairo said Sunday.

While Suozzi is a proven getter, even Democrats said there will be a real fight for the seat.

After redistricting, the 3rd Congressional District is more conservative than it was the last time Suozzi ran, and Republicans have wiped out Democratic incumbents for all the major county-wide offices in recent election cycles while pounding their opponents for unpopular Democratic-approved policies such as the controversial cashless bail law.

Zeldin, who is from Long Island, carried the 3rd by 14 points over Hochul in last year’s governor’s race and Santos handily defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman — before his lies, alleged campaign fundraising corruption and ethical breaches caught up with him — after the election, ultimately leading to his ouster.

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