Democratic Party officials in New York are gearing up for a critical meeting on Friday evening. The purpose of this meeting is to screen potential candidates who could replace former GOP Rep. George Santos, recently expelled from the House. The outcome of this process will greatly influence the party’s ability to flip the seat from red to blue. Jay Jacobs, chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Party, emphasized the importance of selecting the candidate who stands the best chance of securing the seat for the Democrats. Alongside Jacobs, Rep. Gregory Meeks, chairman of the Queens Democratic Party, will also attend the meeting. Additionally, former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi, who previously held this very seat, is expected to be present.
As New York Gov. Kathy Hochul holds the authority to call for a special election, the clock starts ticking as soon as Santos is officially expelled. Hochul has ten days to announce the date of the election, which is anticipated to take place in late February. Santos’ expulsion has further weakened the already slim majority held by Republicans in the House, improving the Democrats’ prospects of flipping the seat and diminishing the GOP’s grip on power. The Cook Political Report has already designated this seat as a toss-up, highlighting the political significance of the race.
Santos’ expulsion was a result of campaign finance violations and ethical concerns, a scenario that typically leads voters to favor the opposition party when selecting a replacement. Since the New York seat in question encompasses both Queens and Nassau County, both Meeks and Jacobs hold the responsibility of selecting the Democratic candidate who will run. New York election law empowers county leaders from each party to nominate and internally rank candidates for special elections. Jacobs expressed his intention to consult House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries as well as Gov. Kathy Hochul before making a final decision on the candidate. In search of a strong contender, Jacobs jokingly quashed the possibility of George Santos’ brother becoming the chosen candidate. At the time of writing, the Queens Democratic Party and Meeks’ spokesperson had not responded to emails seeking comments.
During the screening process, Democratic officials will evaluate several key factors. A crucial aspect will be determining each candidate’s ability to raise sufficient funds to competently campaign and secure victory in the district. While Suozzi has reached out to Jacobs prior to Santos’ expulsion, expressing his interest in running as the chosen candidate, several other potential contenders have also made their intentions known. Although Jacobs did not disclose their names, he revealed that some of them have been in contact more frequently than Suozzi. The selection committee will examine each candidate’s qualifications, strategies, and potential to gain the support of voters.
In a race that carries immense significance for both Democrats and Republicans, the search for the ideal candidate to replace George Santos has begun. The outcome of this screening process will determine the course of the upcoming special election, potentially shifting the balance in the House of Representatives. As New York Democrats embark on this critical decision-making process, they will carefully weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each potential candidate, ultimately selecting the individual who is most likely to succeed in flipping the seat from red to blue.