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Democrat Tom Suozzi wins N.Y. special election to replace George Santos

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Democrat Tom Suozzi wins N.Y. special election to replace George Santos

Further narrowing the Republicon margin in the House.

New York’s 3rd District will flip from red to blue, NBC News projects, in an early test for both parties ahead of November’s fight for control of the House.

Former Rep. Tom Suozzi, Democratic candidate for New York's 3rd Congressional District, speaks during a campaign rally at the Polish National Home in Glen Cove, N.Y., on Feb. 4, 2024.  

Feb. 13, 2024, 10:20 PM EST

WOODBURY, N.Y. — Former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi is heading back to Congress after winning the special election in New York’s 3rd District to replace former GOP Rep. George Santos, NBC News projects.

Suozzi’s victory Tuesday over Republican Mazi Pilip cuts Republicans’ already razor-thin House majority by one seat, making legislating even more difficult moving forward. And it could provide a guide for Democrats competing in similar competitive districts this fall, especially when it comes to navigating their political vulnerability on immigration and border security.


Edited by robosmith
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5 takeaways from Democrats flipping George Santos' House seat in New York


1. Republicans' historically narrow majority got even smaller.

What gets thinner than a whisker? That's essentially Republicans' current majority in the House — only three seats. You think governing has been hard for House Republicans? It just got that much harder.

2. Republicans continue to struggle in the suburbs.

Education, crime and now immigration. None of those issues has really turned the tide for Republicans in the suburbs. With former President Donald Trump as the likely standard bearer again for the party, their job is made even harder. The latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that almost two-thirds of suburban voters have an unfavorable opinion of Trump and, in a head-to-head matchup, Biden leads Trump by 16 points with suburban voters.

If the GOP can't get the message — and the messengers — right, it could prove difficult for them to expand their majority in the House come November as many swing districts are in suburban areas.

3. Democrats showed they can defend themselves on immigration.

This race was dominated by GOP attacks on immigration. Republicans spent more than $8 million on campaign ads in this race, a huge number for a special congressional election. They hammered Democrat Tom Suozzi on immigration on the airwaves. Republican Mazi Pilip even held rallies near a makeshift tent city in Queens that houses migrants.

It's been a hot-button issue in New York with red-state governors busing migrants who crossed the border illegally to cities run by Democrats, including New York. New York Mayor Eric Adams has criticized the Biden administration on border security, calling on it to do more. Biden gets just a 29% approval for his handling of the issue, and Republicans have a 12-point advantage on which party would do a better job with it, according to the latest NPR poll.

So it's understandable that Republicans would want to try to use it. But Democrats showed they can defend themselves on this issue – by tacking to the middle. Suozzi said the border needed to be secured, called for a bipartisan compromise and supported the bipartisan congressional deal that was scuttled by Trump and the hard right. Pilip came out against the bill.

4. Abortion rights continue to be something Democrats will run on — with good reason.

In addition to immigration, abortion rights — once again — played a role in Democrats' messaging. Abortion rights and Pilip's ethical record were the main on-air messages that voters saw. Democrats used Pilip saying she is "pro life" and accused her of "running on a platform to ban abortion. No exceptions for rape or incest."

In Pennsylvania, Jim Prokopiak helped Democrats hold onto the Senate with his victory for the legislative seat in Bucks County. And in a statement after his win, he noted the role abortion rights played.


"What I heard from voters is that Bucks County residents need help supporting their families, want control over their own bodies, and ensure they have the ability to chart their own paths in life," he said.

You don't want to read too much into special elections, but it's been special after special after special that Democrats have won since the Dobbs ruling overturned the guaranteed right to an abortion nearly two years ago.

5. Candidates — and money — do matter.


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