Long Island Special Election Scheduled for February 2024

On February 13, 2024, voters in New York’s 3rd congressional district will elect a new member of Congress. A special election is being held to fill the vacancy created when fraudster George Santos was expelled from Congress on December 1, 2023.

New York’s 3rd congressional district (NY-3) is an affluent district that includes a part of northern Nassau County on Long Island as well as the northeastern section of the borough of Queens. According to The Wall Street Journal, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by about 60,000 in the district. The district has a substantial Jewish population and a substantial Asian-American population.

The Democratic candidate in NY-3 is a familiar face: Former Rep. Tom Suozzi. An accountant and attorney by profession, Rep. Suozzi has a long history of political involvement on Long Island. He served as mayor of the city of Glen Cove from 1994 to 2001, served as Nassau County executive from 2002 to 2009, and represented NY-3 in the House of Representatives from 2017 to 2023. In 2022, Rep. Suozzi opted not to seek re-election to Congress; instead, he challenged Gov. Kathy Hochul in the Democratic primary for governor of New York. Rep. Suozzi finished in third place in that primary, receiving 13% of the vote. He is now attempting to get his former seat back.

Rep. Suozzi holds standard Democratic Party positions on most issues, however, he leans to the political center in some respects. He is a pro-Israel Democrat with a focus on crime reduction, and his political brand is that of a pragmatic lawmaker who can work with members of both parties. During his congressional tenure, Rep. Suozzi chaired the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. In an effort to lower taxes for middle- and high-income New Yorkers, Rep. Suozzi made it a major priority to eliminate or raise the SALT cap (a portion of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that capped the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes at $10,000); however, his efforts were unsuccessful. Business Insider has described Rep. Suozzi as “a less enthusiastic supporter of abortion rights than most [other members] of his party.” Unfortunately, however, Rep. Suozzi has reportedly promised Gov. Hochul that he will position himself as an outspoken advocate of abortion rights in his 2024 campaign.

The Republican Party has chosen Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip as its congressional candidate in NY-3. An Israeli-American of Ethiopian ancestry, Pilip was first elected to the County Legislature in 2021. According to Jewish Insider, Pilip grew up in Ethiopia until age 12, when she was one of 14,000 Ethiopian Jews who were flown to Israel as part of Operation Solomon. Pilip later served as a gunsmith in the Israel Defense Forces. She holds a master’s degree in diplomacy and security from Tel Aviv University. Pilip moved to the United States in 2005.

While Pilip is a registered Democrat, she was elected to her current office on the Republican line. In a recent interview, she emphasized that she holds Republican convictions on issues like public safety, low taxes, and border security. She is a passionate supporter of Israel and intends to speak out against anti-Semitism. Pilip has also said that she will support the Republican nominee for president of the United States in 2024. Regarding a national ban on abortion, Pilip commented, “‘Abortion is a very personal decision, OK? Now, I am a religious person, I have seven children, so I am pro-life. However, I’m not going to push my own beliefs on any woman. Therefore, I’m not going to support a national abortion ban.’”

As The Wall Street Journal has noted, the race in NY-3 is expected to be competitive. Furthermore, it is expected to receive national attention due to the fact that the Republicans hold a very narrow 221-213 majority in the House of Representatives.