Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Both Parties Prepare for a Special Election That Probably Won't Happen

Rep. "George Santos" (R-NY) is still in Congress, but his problems are getting bigger by the day. Local and federal agencies are looking at his campaign finances to see if: (1) he took in money in violation of the law or (2) he spent money in violation of the law. There is plenty of evidence that he did both. If he is indicted for one or more crimes, probably nothing will happen to him. But if he is actually convicted, Republicans might consider him so toxic that they feel forced to vote to expel him. If that happens before the summer of 2024, there would probably have to be a special election to fill his seat.

Both parties are already considering that eventuality and starting to prepare for such a special election, even though Santos might be able to run out the clock and avoid it. In any event, the chance that he could be reelected in 2024 is basically zero, so the preparation for a special election can also be seen as preparation for the 2024 regular election in the event Santos refuses to resign before the summer of 2024 (by which time it would be too late to hold a special election (except for the 2 months left in his term after Nov. 5, 2024).

Long Island is full of Democrats, so the Democrats' problem is not finding a candidate, but deciding which one to back. Tom Suozzi used to hold the seat but ran for governor in 2022 (and lost). He might be a good candidate if he wants his old job back. The Democrat who ran in 2022 and lost to Santos, Robert Zimmerman (no, not Bob Dylan), is another possible candidate. Others include Anna Kaplan, a Jewish-Iranian refugee who recently lost a state Senate race, Jon Kaiman, and Josh Lafazan. All of them have run for the seat in the past. And these are just the obvious candidates. Any member of the state Senate or state Assembly whose district lies within Santos' district is also a plausible candidate.

The Nassau County Republican Committee has called for Santos to resign now and made it abundantly clear he is not welcome in the Republican Party. Consequently, the leaders are already searching for a replacement. Possible candidates include state Sen. Jack Martins; the daughter of grocery store and media billionaire John Catsimatidis, Andrea Catsimatidis; Nassau County comptroller Elaine Phillips and failed 2022 candidate for lieutenant governor, Alison Espositio.

But neither of the local party committees can do much if Santos refuses to budge. His strategy will undoubtedly be trying to run out the clock. If he is indicted, his lawyers can ask for 6 months or maybe 12 months to prepare for the trial. If he is convicted, he can appeal and plead with Kevin McCarthy to let him stay in Congress until his appeal is heard. With some luck, he might be able to hang on until the 2024 election is at hand and then McCarthy could say "let the voters decide." (V)

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