1707883053 Tom Suozzi The duel to succeed Republican George Santos in

Tom Suozzi: The duel to succeed Republican George Santos in the House of Representatives gives the New York seat back to the Democrats | International

Tom Suozzi The duel to succeed Republican George Santos in

On Tuesday night, Democrats were hoping for a decisive victory in the special election in New York's 3rd District, which Republican George Santos represented until he was expelled from Congress in December after being accused of 23 counts, including fraud, falsehood and identity theft . Under other circumstances, a partial vote to replace an elected member who has lost his job – even the disgraced Santos, with his sonorous trail of hoaxes and fabrications – would have generated no more interest than the completion of the counting process, but in an election year like this this and given a very tense balance of power in Congress (the Republicans lead the Democrats in the House of Representatives by only seven seats), the race was lived with anticipation and the counting was followed live by the media. Not only the score in the House of Representatives depended on the result, but also the lessons that could be drawn from it for the presidential election campaign in November.

With 52% of votes counted and according to the Associated Press agency, Democrat Tom Suozzi has prevailed over his rival, Republican Mazi Pilip, with almost 59% of the vote, compared to 41%. The latter number is not insignificant for someone with little political experience like Pilip (he was only a local representative in disputed Nassau County) compared to Suozzi's three terms as a Washington congressman. The moderate Democrat has thus regained the seat he held before Santos took it away from him in November last year.

A heavy snowstorm, the worst in nearly two years, reduced voter turnout, leaving both candidates virtually tied in their voting intentions. The battle was so fierce that both offered their voters paid transportation to voting centers. The Congressional Leadership Fund, the House Republicans' main super PAC (political action committee), even hired private snow plows to clear the entrances. Without the snowplow bill, the group has spent $5 million on the race, showing Washington Republicans' determination to keep this seat. Early voting until this Sunday appeared to benefit Democrats.

The congressman-elect has positioned himself as a moderate negotiator in this district during the campaign, while Republican Mazi Pilip, an Ethiopian-born Israeli army veteran and defender of Trumpist theories of stealing the 2020 election, has sought to link his rival with President Joe Biden going through bad times. A Democratic defeat would have set off alarm bells in a party already reeling from the president's low approval ratings and with open fronts such as immigration, which is becoming the main issue of the November election campaign. A Republican victory would have consolidated differences in the House of Representatives and ended the traditional blue hegemony, the color with which Democrats are identified, in New York. In fact, it was the four seats Republicans won in that state in the midterm elections that gave their party control of the House of Representatives.

Nassau County is joined in the constituency in question by part of Queens, where New York Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, has set up a macro shelter for migrants recently arrived from the border. Immigration pressure is an advantage that Republicans have exploited thoroughly in this race, just as they have nationally: it's been about blaming President Biden and us for the chaos that's unfolding in New York – and other Democratic cities like Denver or Chicago – there is a belief that the presence of thousands of immigrants on the streets of the Big Apple visualized the crisis in the eyes of ordinary voters, although this concern was not expressed at the polls. The repeated complaints from Democratic Mayor Adams, who accused the federal government of not contributing sufficiently to the costs of accepting migrants, also contributed to this.

Regaining Santos' seat in the House of Representatives was the Democrats' first test of the election year. If it is overcome, the possibility of prevailing in undecided suburban districts like New York will open up in November, when polls on voting intentions show an advantage for the Republican candidate Donald Trump, who wins his party's primary, as well as an uncontested lead of doubtful voters.

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