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Democrat Tom Suozzi wins race to replace George Santos

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By Mirela NanPublished 2 months ago 2 min read
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A Democrat has won the swing US congressional district left vacant when former Republican Congressman George Santos was expelled last December.

Tom Suozzi's Tuesday night victory over rival Mazi Pilip denies Republicans a chance to pad out their slim majority in the House of Representatives.

He will finish Mr Santos's term following his removal from Congress over allegations of fraud

The race was a closely watched bellwether for the November elections.

In a victory speech briefly interrupted by protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, Mr Suozzi said, "This race was fought amidst a closely divided electorate."

He focused on unity and healing political differences, saying: "it's time to find common ground and start delivering for the people of America".

CBS, the BBC's US partner, reported that with 87% of the estimated vote tallied Mr Suozzi had 54%, while rival Ms Pilip had 45%.

The election marks a return to Congress for the Democrat, who previously served three terms in the US House but opted in 2022 to run for governor in New York instead.

That bid was unsuccessful, and voters replaced him in Congress with Mr Santos.

With a campaign slogan of "Let's Fix This," Mr Suozzi embarked on a well-funded effort to reclaim his district. He pitched himself as an experienced leader - one whose biography voters already knew well.

Ms Pilip, the Republican candidate, conceded the special election race on Tuesday evening in a speech to supporters.

"We are fighters, I called my opponent and congratulated him," she said.

Eric Adams, the Democratic mayor of New York, said Mr Suozzi's victory "was good news" for the city.

While Mr Santos's historic expulsion from Congress was about allegations of corruption, fraud and misuse of campaign funds, the race to replace him was about high-profile issues likely to matter in the upcoming presidential contest.

Those included immigration, the Israel-Gaza war and abortion.

Both candidates and their backers poured millions of dollars into a campaign to hold the seat for only a few months. Mr Suozzi will have to run for a new term this November.

New York's third congressional district covers a diverse electorate, stretching from the New York City borough of Queens into the western suburbs of Long Island.

Despite registered Democrats outnumbering registered Republican voters there, polls indicated the race was extremely close for most of the short campaign.

Ms Pilip, an Ethiopian-Israeli immigrant and observant Jew who was hand-picked to run by Nassau County's powerful Republican political machine, made immigration and unwavering US support of Israel central to her campaign.

Her biography - she fled to Israel from Ethiopia as a child and served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) before coming to the US - seemed tailor-made to appeal to the district's large share of Jewish voters, many of whom are still reeling from the 7 October attacks.

Mr Suozzi also declared himself an unwavering ally of Israel and argued to Jewish voters that he would counterbalance progressive members of the Democratic Party who want to reduce or eliminate US aid to Israel.

On immigration, Ms Pilip blamed Mr Suozzi and Democrats for New York City's wave of migrant arrivals and the crisis unfolding at the southern border.

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Mirela Nan

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