Special Election Today in New York’s 3rd District — By: Church Militant

NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) – Voting is underway during snowy conditions on Long Island in the special election to replace expelled Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y. 

Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y.

The election in the D+4 district is expected to be close between Democrat Tom Suozzi and Republican Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip.

Suozzi, who represented the 3rd District for three terms until running unsuccessfully for governor in 2022, maintains a small edge in all polling. Four polls from three different research entities have been released from Nov. 30 to Feb. 8, and all show a three-point margin between the candidates — with both seeing support factors in the 40s.

An eight-day in-person early voting period concluded on Saturday. Mail voting before the election day is allowed, but one must request a ballot at least ten days before the election. All voters are not mailed ballots prior to the election. 

The Suozzi campaign and his institutional backers are dominating the ad wars, attacking Pilip as a MAGA candidate, as well as going after her on the abortion issue. These have been staples of Democratic campaigns from around the country.  

Republican supporters and the Pilip campaign have made immigration the central focus of their ads, particularly using a clip of Suozzi, when he was campaigning for Nassau County executive, saying, “I kicked ICE out of Nassau County.”

Support for Israel has also been a key issue in this campaign.

Before Suozzi was elected to Congress, he won the Nassau County executive position in the 2001 and 2005 local elections. He was defeated for reelection in 2009 and lost again in attempting his political comeback in 2013. Before obtaining the County executive post, Suozzi served two terms as mayor of Glen Cove.

Pilip is in her second term as a Nassau county legislator, a position most places title as “commissioner” or “supervisor.” She was born in Ethiopia before her family emigrated to Israel. While a citizen of the country, Pilip served in the Israel Defense Force. Naturally, support for Israel has also been a key issue in this campaign. 

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Democrats have a huge resource advantage. According to the Jan. 24 pre-election Federal Election Commission financial disclosure reports, Suozzi had raised $4.5 million as compared to Pilip’s $1.3 million.

Outside spending has also favored the Democrats, but the margin between the two sides has lessened since the Congressional Leadership Fund came into the race in the closing weeks with a multi-million dollar media buy to support Pilip and attack Suozzi. It is also expected that Democrats will have the advantage with their “Get Out The Vote” operation. 

Election’s National Ramifications 

This special election has national ramifications on several fronts because NY-3 is proving itself a swing district. While President Biden carried the seat in 2022, Republicans Lee Zeldin and former Rep. Santos won the district in their races. 

Mazi Melesa Pilip, R-N.Y.

Today’s election is a strong test of how the immigration issue will potentially affect regular 2024 congressional elections because it has become a major topic in this campaign.  

With Biden’s approval rating potentially reaching its nadir just at the time of this election, it will be an interesting test to examine whether voters will tie Democratic congressional candidates to a president of whom they generally disapprove. While Trump may also have poor approval ratings in this district, Biden’s are somewhat worse. In a question as to who the voters would support in the 2024 presidential race, Siena found Trump leading 47-42%.

It will again be a test of the abortion issue. Does it remain as potent a vote driver as we saw in the 2022 elections?

New York’s 3rd District is anchored in Nassau County, which contains three-quarters of the district’s constituency. The remaining quarter resides in Queens, the region that gives the Democrats their district-wide advantage.  

Suozzi is the favorite to win tonight, but his margin will likely be relatively close. A Pilip upset, however, could be a precursor of stronger future Republican electoral performances. 

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