Super PAC millions shape Suozzi-Pilip race for CD3

Super PAC millions shape Suozzi-Pilip race for CD3
Former U.S. Tom Suozzi, left, and Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip (R-Great Neck) right. (Photo courtesy of the candidates)

The House Republican Super PAC spent about $2.3 million in ads directing attacks at Democrat Tom Suozzi and his immigration policies and record, according to the New York Post, in the race for New York’s Third Congressional District.

The Post also reported that Suozzi and the Democrats have spent about $5.8 million on the race, compared to the GOP spending about $1.8 on Pilip’s campaign so far.

Suozzi and Republican Nassau County District 10 Legislator Pilip are facing off in a Feb. 13 special election to finish out the term of Republican Rep. George Santos, who was expelled from the House.

Television and digital ads from both campaigns have been airing in the weeks leading up to the election, with multiple focusing on the issue of immigration.

The ad from Pilip’s campaign includes a clip of Suozzi while he was Nassau County executive saying he kicked ICE, the federal agency enforcing immigration policy, out of the county. The ad also claims that he weakened border security while a congressman.

Another ad by Pilip’s campaign also sets the record straight on her abortion and Social Security stances, which reaffirms that she does not support a national abortion ban or cuts to Social Security. Suozzi and his campaign ads have claimed that she does.

“Tom Suozzi and his surrogates will do anything to try to deflect attention away from his dismal record of opening the southern border to illegal migrants, defunding the police, and voting with Joe Biden 100% of the time,” Pilip said. “They will go so far as to outright lie about me and my position on important issues, such as abortion and Social Security.”

She added, “Tom Suozzi and his campaign should be ashamed of the baseless lies they have been peddling, and I call on him to retract these lies.”

Pilip said her campaign is prioritizing the protection of women’s rights and Social Security.

Suozzi has released his own TV ad, the fourth this campaign, addressing the immigration issue and Pilip’s claims about his record. The ad includes an appearance by Suozzi on Fox supporting ICE and border security, with the ad also emphasizing his quest for bipartisan solutions and streamlining processes to citizenship.

“You can’t fix immigration from the basement, which is the campaign Mazi Pilip is running – refusing to talk to voters, ducking issues, and offering soundbites from party bosses,” Suozzi said. “The only real solution to immigration requires a bipartisan effort that combines tougher border security with common sense reforms that stops illegal immigration and creates a pathway for those who follow the rules.“

The House Majority PAC Has also released a slew of ads targeting Pilip and supporting Suozzi. In December, the PAC announced it would be spending $5.9 million on TV and digital ads for the Democratic Party in the special election.

Immigration in CD3’s special election

Pilip appeared in Queens last Thursday at the Detective William T. Gunn playground where what she called a “tent city” has been erected filled with about 1,000 migrants. Shortly after, Suozzi had his press conference at the same location to also discuss the issue.

Pilip, who called herself a “legal immigrant” at the appearance Thursday, denounced the establishment of the migrant center due to the impact on the neighborhood. She said the migrants had diminished the safety of the residential neighborhood due to alleged alcohol and drug use, violence and criminal activity.

The Republican advocated for the securing of the southern border, funding ICE and pushing back on what her campaign is calling the Biden-Suozzi immigration policies.

Pilip has also criticized Hochul’s proposed budget for 2024-2025, which allocates $2.4 billion for migrant services. Her campaign has blamed the migrant funds allocation for the diminishment of funding for schools even though proposed state school aid of  $35.3 billion represents a 2.4% increase.

Suozzi criticized Pilip’s press conference for providing prepared talking points, blocking reporter questions and informing reporters of the press conference on short notice. Blank Slate Media was not informed of the press conference by Pilip’s campaign.

The former congressman also found fault that Pilip was accompanied by Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (NY-04), who the Suozzi campaign called her “handler,” with the representative answering some of the questions directed at Pilip. As seen in a video taken at the press conference, Pilip spoke less than D’Esposito, giving opening remarks for about four minutes versus D’Esposito’s at least nine-minute speech.

When a reporter asked Pilip if she agreed with former President Trump that congressional Republicans should oppose the bill, D’Esposito responded to the question.

The bill would secure the southern border by making it more difficult for migrants to be granted asylum after illegally crossing the border without pathways to citizenship for migrants already in the country illegally. This bill pairs the border security funds with funding for Ukraine.

Trump has said he opposes the bill, with Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson calling the bill “dead on arrival” and other Republicans expressing opposition to it.

When D’Esposito finished, Pilip responded by saying she believes the border needs to be secured and said a bipartisan agreement could be made but that “we have to see what the deal is,” echoing what D’Espoito commented just seconds before.

Suozzi’s campaign said it was “clear that Pilip had no idea what is in the [immigration] bill.”

“My opponent is very good at telling all of us what the problem is,” Suozzi said at his press conference immediately following Pilip’s. “We all know what the problem is. What are you going to do about it?”

When asked to address Suozzi’s comments that Pilip is not well-informed on federal issues, she blamed Suozzi for the current migrant problem and that she has done more than he has in the past two years as a county legislator.

Pilip has faced scrutiny for the lack of detail on her immigration policy views and failing to disclose her stance on the Senate’s bipartisan national security bill. Criticism from Democrats also includes her lack of an action plan for her immigration policy.

“Mazi Pilip’s refusal to speak up on Republicans holding up bipartisan immigration reform is deafening,” said Alisha Hengn, NY press secretary for the House Majority PAC.

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