A bipartisan group of mayors from the North Shore has endorsed former U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi to vie for his old seat and replace George Santos in the 3rd Congressional District amid reports that he will be the Democrat Party’s choice in a special election next year.
Suozzi, 61, held the seat from 2017 to 2023 and did not seek re-election last year while running in the Democratic primary for governor.
“Today’s endorsement makes it clear that this race is not about Democrat vs. Republican or Republican vs. Democrat,” Suozzi said in a statement. “These mayors understand that this race will be about who knows the district best and who will deliver results for the people in the 3rd Congressional District.”
On the Republican roster, the mayors include Ralph Ekstrand of Farmingdale, Bob Fagliola of Lattingtown, Marvin Natiss of North Hills, Larry Z. Schmidlapp of Centre Island, Tom Zoller of Cove Neck and John Popeleski of Manorhaven.
“As a mayor for the past 20 years, I have had the opportunity to interact with Tom when he was county executive and then as a congressman,” Natiss said. “As a former mayor, Tom has always had concern for his constituents and has had periodic meetings with local officials to address their concerns and needs. I look forward to working with him again.”
The Democrat mayors to endorse Suozzi include John Durkin of Roslyn, Elena Villafane of Sea Cliff, Nora Haagenson of Baxter Estates, William Warner of Great Neck Estates and Leone Peters of Roslyn Estates.
“With his background as a mayor, Tom Suozzi has always been aware of the needs of the villages in his district. In my years in office, no one has made himself more accessible or available than Congressman Suozzi,” Durkin said. “I look forward to having a voice in Washington again.”
Suozzi was challenged by Santos during the Republican’s first campaign in 2020, when Suozzi defeated him by over 12 percentage points.
Santos, 35, became the sixth House member last week to be ousted from Congress Friday after the resolution passed 311-114, with 105 Republicans voting in favor. Santos’ expulsion is the first since 2002 when Ohio Democrat Jim Traficant was convicted on federal corruption charges. Santos is also the first congressman to be expelled since the Civil War without first being convicted of a felony.
The special election to replace Santos will happen early next year after members of the county party committees nominate a candidate to run in the election to finish out Santos’ current term, which ends Jan. 3, 2025.
The Nassau County Republican Committee chairman is Joe Cairo and the County Democratic Committee chairman is Jay Jacobs.
The Democrats are expected to pick their candidate, which is most likely to be Suozzi, sometime this week, according to multiple reports.
Other Democrats vying for the seat include former state Sen. Anna Kaplan, Austin Cheng, Scott Livingston and Darius Radzius.
Kaplan said on social media Monday that if Suozzi is the party’s choice, it will do “irreparable harm to national Democrats in 2024.”
Kaplan went on to say Suozzi’s record on abortion is “further to the right” than the Republican candidates to replace Santos, pointing at his initial support for the Hyde Amendment years ago, which banned federal funds from covering abortion care.
Suozzi had a 100% approval rating from Planned Parenthood, an abortion advocate, during his three terms.
Next year’s ballot for multiple states will include constitutional amendments to protect abortion access. In New York, the state’s ballot will ask voters to add “pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes and reproductive healthcare and autonomy” as areas where discrimination would be barred.
“There is no compromise on this issue for me—not as the mother of two daughters,” Kaplan said on X, the social media app formerly known as Twitter. “Women’s equality demands that women have the right to control their own bodies.”
Among the Republican candidates mentioned or announced are state Sen. Jack Martins, Nassau County Legislator Mazi Pilip, Afghanistan war veteran and former J.P. Morgan Vice President Kellen Curry, retired NYPD Det. Mike Sapraicone and Air Force veteran and personal injury lawyer Greg Hach. Other candidates include Queens small business owner Daniel Norber, Jim Toes, president & CEO of the Security Traders Association; and Thomas Charles Ludwig, a resident of Farmingdale and retired special forces officer.
Santos himself said on X that Sapraicone should be the Republican Party’s nominee, citing his resume as a police officer, business leader and his “fund-raising and infrastructure to go head to head with Suozzi.”
Cairo pushed back at Santos’ endorsement, saying none of the potential candidates want his support.
“George Santos has no place in the Nassau Republican Party and he has zero credibility among our candidates,” Cairo said in a statement.