New York’s Third Congressional District race is heating up with 14 candidates and incumbent Rep. George Santos filing to run as many challengers say they were inspired to join the effort to oust the controversial and duplicitous congressman
Santos is currently facing a federal indictment, which includes seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds and two counts of making materially false statements to Congress.
If convicted of the top charges, Santos could face up to 20 years in prison.
Santos has drawn backlash since The New York Times reported in December a series of lies that the representative told on his resume to enhance his reputation as a candidate for Congress.
Santos has admitted to lying about his education and work history, but he has not
addressed other inconsistencies and has equivocated when asked about his business dealings and how they related to his political efforts.
In a recent appearance on Fox’s “Good Day New York,” Santos defended lying on his resume and claimed that it is something many people do. When confronted about lying that his mother died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, he denied that he made those claims. In a July 12, 2021 reply on X, formerly known as Twitter, Santos said that “9/11 claimed my mothers life [sic].”
Federal prosecutors accused Mr. Santos of orchestrating a scheme to solicit political contributions that he used for personal expenses; of fraudulently receiving more than $24,000 in pandemic unemployment benefits while he was actually employed; and of knowingly making false statements on House financial disclosure forms.
Court documents in Brazil that were first reported by The New York Times also state that Santos, who was 19 at the time, used a fake name and stolen checks to purchase a pair of sneakers, among other goods, from a store in Niterói, located outside of Rio de Janeiro.
Two years later, Santos confessed to the crime and was later charged, according to The Times.
Santos is also being investigated by the House Ethics Committee.
In April, Santos announced his bid for re-election despite his current indictment and diminished support by constituents.
Due to his deception, alleged criminal reputation and pending legal repercussions, Santos has been facing strong opposition to his role as a representative and his future campaign for re-election. This response has led to a long lineup of challengers for the Third Congressional District seat.
The lineup so far includes seven Democratic candidates, seven Republican candidates – one of whom is Santos – and one Independent candidate, according to Ballotpedia.
Democratic candidates include former New York State District 7 Sen. Anna Kaplan (D–Port Washington), District 18 Nassau County Legislator Joshua Lafazan (D–Woodbury), St. John’s legal studies professor William Murphy and 29-year-old activist Zak Malamed. Other candidates include Austin Cheng, Scott Livingston and Darius Radzius.
Matthew Nappo, operations officer for EPM Studios, is running as an independent.
Republican challengers facing incumbent Santos are Afghanistan war veteran and former J.P. Morgan Vice President Kellen Curry, retired NYPD Detective Mike Sapraicone and newest candidate, Air Force veteran and personal injury lawyer Greg Hach. Other candidates include Philip Sean Grillo, a Queens man charged with storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021; orthopedic surgeon Harvey Manes, and Daniel Norber, a small business owner from Bayside, Queens.
Santos has been a talking point for many of the candidates running for his seat, notably Republicans, with many advocating to reinstate faith in the district in the wake of his scandals.
This includes the newest Republican candidate Hach.
“I am running for Congress because honorable Third District voters were conned by a crook and serial liar,” Hach said in a press release, referring to Santos.
Curry also expressed the importance of reinstating an effective representative for the district in a previous interview with Blank Slate.
“What we’re really focusing on right now is making sure that we draw attention to the current state of leadership,” Curry said. “Quite frankly, nothing happens if we don’t have leadership that we can believe in.”
Sapraicone shared a similar inspiration for his candidacy as Curry, who said he is running in order to “return integrity and a respected voice to the office.”
Neither Nassau County GOP Chairman Joe Cairo nor Democrat Chairman Jay Jacobs has made any endorsements yet for their congressional congressional candidates in the race.