As storm threatens voter turnout, Suozzi blasts Pilip as ‘George Santos 2.0’ on last day of early voting
Both candidates opted for a safe bet on the final day of early voting, the last chance to get in before the special election scheduled for Tuesday, when a storm is expected to hit Western Long Island.
The final stretch of the election for this closely watched swing district saw Democratic candidate Tom Suozzi and GOP candidate Mazi Pili campaigning in churches and pickleball courts.
A victory for Suozzi could be a boon to Democrats hoping to flip the House of Representatives in 2024. However, a win by Pilip would boost the Republicans’ razor thin majority in the chamber.
Pilip, the Nassau County lawmaker, avoided the national and local media during his campaign. Souzzi, a six-year political veteran in the district that he represents, invited reporters to visit his Plainview office to criticize his opponent’s reluctance to speak out.
The candidates all had one strategy in common: they encouraged their supporters to cast early ballots to avoid bad weather that could reduce turnout during the election.
Suozzi said to dozens of reporters gathered at the cramped headquarters of his campaign. “If you can’t vote today then vote on Tuesday. But it will be difficult because of the weather.” Both candidates also promoted early voting through their social media accounts.
Lorraine Corrente, who was leaving a polling station next to the Mid-Island Y Jewish Community Center told POLITICO that she voted on Sunday because of the storm expected for Tuesday. She claimed that two Suozzi representatives had rung her doorbell 30 minutes before.
The polls indicate that the race between the two candidates is a dead heat. One candidate, an experienced politician, has a strong name ID, while the other, a relative novice, has a unique and compelling background as an Ethiopian Immigrant, Orthodox Jew, and former member of the Israel Defense Forces. According to a Newsday/Siena College survey released on Thursday, Suozzi was leading Pilip by 48 percent to 44 percent. Suozzi was “very satisfied” with the results, even though his lead fell within the poll’s margin of error of 4.2 percent.
When asked about the results, Suozzi acknowledged that the GOP had an advantage in the district.
Pilip accuses Suozzi for being soft on immigration, as migrants flood parts of the State.
Pilip didn’t announce her campaign events or answer POLITICO’s questions about her schedule on Sunday. However, her campaign told POLITICO later by phone that Pilip was at a LifeTime Fitness event and then greeting parishioners in Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church Massapequa Park.
Suozzi invited reporters and supporters for a press conference where he called Pilip “George Santos 2.0,” and laid out a “six count indictment” of her, including her voting record and her performance in a debate that was aired against him on Thursday — the one debate that Pilip agreed to.
Santos lost his seat in December, after the House Ethics Committee issued a report that found “substantial” evidence to support federal prosecutors’ allegations of a laundry-list of crimes such as identity theft and falsifying campaign reports.
Suozzi stated that “Ms. Pilip, the Republican Party, and the extremists in this race have conducted it the same way as George Santos, with the lack of transparency and non-availability.”
Pilip, a registered Democrat who had for months refused to reveal her vote in 2020, revealed on Saturday, according to POLITICO, that she voted, despite not being able register, for the former President Donald Trump. Suozzi, however, questioned that claim and joked during his speech “I honestly do not believe she voted Trump.”
Suozzi stated, “I believe she voted for Joe Biden.” “She also voted for Hillary Clinton.” I’m serious.”
Suozzi has repeatedly criticized Pilip for her inexperience and refusal to talk to the media during the entire race. Suozzi stated on Sunday that he was “flabbergasted” by Pilip’s performance in the debate.
He added, “I can understand why she didn’t want to debate. I can also explain why the Republican Party who has been handling her did not want her to debate because she does not have any detailed position on any issue.”
Pilip, who has the support of the majority of law enforcement agencies in the area, has won over Suozzi’s supporters. The Hotel and Gaming Trades Council spent more than $10,000 canvassing during the last days of early voting.
Twelve police unions have endorsed Pilip over Suozzi. However, the New York City Police Benevolent Association does not endorse anyone.
Pilip’s spokesperson has not responded to POLITICO regarding this article. Pilip described Suozzi as an “extremist,” who was “trying to get away from his past” in an interview with Fox News.
Pilip replied: “He wants to create this feeling of me and Santos being in the same place.” Come on, let’s get back to the real issues.
The outcome of this race will have an impact on New York politics. Suburbs in New York are bucking a national trend by becoming increasingly red.
In the Long Island suburbs, east of New York City’s city center, Republicans are on a three-year winning spree. Issues like property taxes and public safety are at the forefront of the minds of the voters. The two candidates are battling each other to portray themselves as the moderate candidate in the race, while labeling their opponent an extremist.
Pilip says that Suozzi is a member of the “far-left” “squad”, but she has a very careful, and at times confusing, line to follow on abortion and gun control.
While pro-Suozzi organizations are eager to portray Pilip as a “MAGA Mazi”, and link her to the right-wing leadership of the party, they also boast about the former congressman’s centrist views. For example, he supported the House GOP’s stand-alone bill for Israel assistance.
Jay Jacobs, state Democratic chair for New York State, told POLITICO that if Suozzi won the election it would be “a huge morale booster for Democrats in New York State”.
He said, “I believe (winning) sets a tone and gives momentum going into November.” It also shows, I believe, what a winning case looks like in suburbs and upstate.”