Suozzi presses Pilip for more debates ahead of special election

Suozzi presses Pilip for more debates ahead of special election
Former U.S. Tom Suozzi, left, and Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip (R-Great Neck) right. (Photo courtesy of the candidates)

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, the Democratic candidate in the special election for New York’s 3rd Congressional District, and his campaign have been calling out his opponent, Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip (R-Great Neck), to debate him ahead of voting day.

Suozzi, of Glen Cove, said he’s accepted invitations for debates to be aired on WABC, WNBC, and NY1 while the only event Pilip and he are now scheduled to appear together is News 12 on Thursday, Feb. 8,  just days before the Feb. 13 election.

“I have accepted invitations to 3 televised debates so far,” Suozzi said on X Wednesday. “How about you, @MaziForCongress?”

Suozzi’s campaign has also been questioning Pilip’s stances on a national abortion ban after she told Jewish Insider in an interview weeks ago it was a “very personal decision.” 

“I am a religious person, I have seven children, so I am pro-life,” Pilip told Jewish Insider. “However, I’m not going to push my own beliefs on any woman. Therefore, I’m not going to support a national abortion ban.”

The Democrat’s campaign is also calling for her to address her stance on assault weapons and whether or not she voted for President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

The Suozzi campaign has stressed the importance of Pilips answering questions about her position on various issues ahead of the election, citing the consequences of former Rep. George Santos, whose seat they are seeking, not being sufficiently vetted. 

Suozzi will also be appearing on the North Shore during a meet-and-greet with the Lakeville Estates Civic Association on Thursday, Jan. 11.

The event was originally advertised as a debate with both candidates attending in person, but it has since been updated to an event with just Suozzi in attendance. 

“We are very sorry that Mazi will not be attending, she has been a great advocate for LECA with County issues,” the civic, which has close to 1,200 registered homes as members in the greater New Hyde Park Area, said on Facebook Thursday. “Former Congressman Tom Suozzi has also been a strong supporter of our Civic and this is why we wanted everyone to hear firsthand on their plans to give back to all of the residents of the 3rd Congressional  District that we have missed out on for two years now.” 

Pilip’s campaign told Blank Slate Media that the Republican had scheduling conflicts that day and Lakeville Estates was made aware of them.

“Mazi Pilip has opened a productive and enjoyable dialogue with the media and the public regarding the issues that are of concern to neighbors, Mazi has committed to a televised debate and never changed her position on that,” Aidan Strongreen said in a statement. “Mazi has never pulled out of a debate. Any claims to the contrary are not based in fact.

The confusion on the original debate with the civic is related to a scheduling miscommunication between the civic and Pilip’s campaign team.

The civic on Tuesday night said the event, scheduled for Clinton G. Martin Park in New Hyde Park, would have included questions sent from members ahead of time to be read by a moderator not affiliated with the association. 

Pilip easily won re-election to the county Legislature earlier this year, defeating Democratic candidate Weihua Yan with nearly 60% of the vote. 

Pilip and Yan did not debate ahead of Election Day this November.

The League of Women Voters of Port Washington and Manhasset, a nonpartisan grassroots organization, said Pilip “has not agreed to participate despite repeated outreach over multiple weeks” in an August press release announcing their debate schedule. 

Both Pilip and Yan did appear together at a Lakeville Estates meet-and-greet event that included a brief introduction given by both candidates. 

A previous version of this article was published. It has since been updated following comments from Pilip’s campaign.

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  1. Republicans are keeping Pilip silent so that suggestible voters can project whatever wishes they want onto her. They can make her fit whatever their fantasy is while she answers ZERO questions about how she’ll vote and demonstrates ZERO knowledge about issues beyond stock phrases. But if she cannot speak to constituents now, how will she be an effective representative of our moderate district? I cannot believe that after Santos, Republican voters will accept another shadow candidate.


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