Tom Suozzi (D) and Mazi Pilip (R) are running in a special election in New York’s 3rd Congressional District on Feb. 13, 2024. The election was called after members of the U.S. House expelled former-Rep. George Santos (R) on Dec. 1, 2023.
Suozzi represented an earlier version of the district from 2017 to 2023 and ran for governor in the 2022 Democratic primary. Pilip has served in the Nassau County Legislature since 2021. Party leaders selected both candidates because this is a special election rather than holding primaries.
Local political analysts say that support for Israel is likely to be an issue in the race, with both Suozzi and Pilip saying they are strong supporters of the country. Hofstra University professor Lawrence Levy said the issue could affect turnout for Suozzi: “There’s not an inch of daylight between Suozzi and Pilip on support for Israel…but the Democratic Party is seeing younger voters at odds with Israel.” In an interview with Politico, Suozzi said Democrats who opposed U.S. aid to Israel were not informed on the issue: “They don’t understand what a serious threat this is to not only Israel and Jews throughout the world, but to America and our allies. They’re just not educated about the issues.”
The election outcome will help determine the balance of members in the U.S. House of Representatives. As of Jan. 4, 2024, there were 220 Republicans and 213 Democrats in the House, giving Republicans a seven-member advantage with New York’s 3rd as one of two vacancies. Two members had announced upcoming resignations scheduled to take place before the Feb. 13 election: Brian Higgins (D) and Bill Johnson (R). If both members’ resignations take place as scheduled, Republicans will control 219 House seats to Democrats’ 212 at the time of the special election, a seven-seat margin. A win for Pilip would expand the Republican majority to an eight-seat margin of 220-212, while a win for Suozzi would expand the Democratic minority, bringing the partisan balance to a six-seat margin of 219-213.
The winner will serve the remainder of Santos’ term, which ends on Jan. 3, 2025. Candidates for the special election are also eligible to run in the regular 2024 election.
In the 2022 election, Santos defeated Robert Zimmerman (D) 53.7%-46.2%. This was the first election after the 2020 round of redistricting, which analysts assessed shifted the district towards Republicans.
As of Jan. 4, 2024, six special elections have been called for the 118th Congress. From the 113th Congress to the 117th Congress, 67 special elections were held.