Mazi Pilip and Tom Suozzi are campaigning for Congress.
When Tom Suozzi first began campaigning to replace Rep. George Santos (R-NY) in Congressional District 3 (CD-3), he was concerned about the strength of the Republican machine and whether his party could match it.
CD-3 spans Nassau County and a part of Eastern Queens.
Ten weeks into his campaign, Mr. Suozzi is finally hitting his stride around the special election taking place within 24 hours on Feb. 13.
Mr. Santos was expelled by Congress on Dec. 1, 2023, because he allegedly violated federal law and participated in financial illegal activity, such as identity theft and improper campaign reports.
“We have surpassed the strength of the Republican organization,” Mr. Suozzi said during a Sunday morning press conference at his Plainview campaign headquarters. “We’re going to win this race and we’re going to win it handily.”
Mr. Suozzi believes his turning point was the Feb. 8 News 12 debate against GOP candidate Mazi Pilip.
“I think anybody who watches the debate will vote for me,” Mr. Suozzi said. “It was just so clear as day the difference between myself and my opponent in this race. I’m suggesting that I’m a problem solver and she’s a problem maker.”
Since the debate where the two candidates sparred over gun reform, abortion, inflation, aid to Israel, and border security, Mr. Suozzi reports a thousand people stepped up to help his campaign on Saturday by volunteering to knock on doors and make phone calls.
Another thousand volunteered on Sunday and a Newsday/Siena College survey found last week that 48 percent of voters support Mr. Suozzi compared to 44 percent for Ms. Pilip. Seven percent were undecided.
“I actually thought it would be closer than it is right now and I’m very happy that the poll showed me four points ahead,” Mr. Suozzi told journalists. “I’ll be happy with a 50.1 [percent] win and I’m ecstatic about the momentum that this campaign is experiencing right now.”
Mr. Suozzi also unveiled a six-count indictment of Ms. Pilip, which includes an alleged lack of transparency and lying about voting for former President Donald Trump. He questioned why she withheld the information for so long.
Ms. Pilip did not respond to requests for information about her Sunday campaign event schedule.
She previously said at her debate watch party last week that Mr. Suozzi is a talker.
“I’m a person of action,” Ms. Pilip told her supporters. “I love to deliver. This election is about protecting our country.”
The Impact of Biden Administration’s Policies
As a Democrat, Mr. Suozzi is disadvantaged with the immigrant crisis, which is being blamed on President Joe Biden and his administration’s policies.
He’s hoping that in the president’s state of the union address in March, Mr. Biden will make immigration a centerpiece of his speech if the issue isn’t solved before then.
“I absolutely would’ve voted for the border bill,” Mr. Suozzi told The Epoch Times after the press conference. “The only way you can solve the border crisis is to have a bipartisan deal. One party will never get everything they want. There has to be a bipartisan compromise.”
National eyes are on the special election because the House of Representatives majority is at stake. Currently, Republicans are slightly dominant.
Federal Election Commission (FEC) data shows Democrats paid $9.6 million for advertising and campaign messaging that benefitted Mr. Suozzi compared to $6.8 million paid by the GOP on behalf of Ms. Pilip.
Millions Spent on TV and Digital Advertisements
As of Feb. 11, Suozzi For Congress still has significantly more financial contributions than Mazi For Congress.
For example, a sampling shows that 23 contributed $3,300 to Mr. Suozzi’s campaign, according to FEC 48 Hour Notice of Contributions, compared to only seven donations of $3,300 donated to Ms. Pilip’s coffers.
“Suozzi can have the money,” Republican Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman told The Epoch Times. “I’d rather have the voters and the troops.”
A new TV advertisement that aired during yesterday’s NFL Super Bowl is expected to boost Ms. Pilip’s name just in time for Election Day.
In it, Ms. Pilip alleges that when Mr. Suozzi was Nassau County’s executive, he increased taxes by “hundreds of millions of dollars” and enriched his own salary.
The Suozzi for Congress campaign is fighting back with a digital ad released yesterday on YouTube called “Working On It,” in which he blasts Ms. Pilip and Long Island Republican Reps. for failing to take action to lift the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction limit.
Mr. Suozzi boasted that he passed a restoration of the SALT deduction three times.
“When it comes to the issue of SALT, you’ve got Tom Suozzi, who’s passed it three times and who knows how to get it done,” he said. “If he goes [back] to Washington D.C., there he’ll be a senior member of Congress. He gets his seniority back.”
Mr. Suozzi previously served three terms in Congress for the district.
The Rise of Nassau County GOP and Mazi Pilip
Although Ms. Pilip may not be as effective a speaker as Mr. Suozzi, she has a track record.
The married mother of seven was elected Nassau County Legislator in 2021, and again in 2023 to represent the 10th District, which includes Great Neck, Manhasset, and Herricks.
She is not alone. Nassau County Republicans hold the county executive seat, the county clerk’s seat, and the district attorney’s seat.
Former U.S. Senator Al D’Amato (R-NY) credits Joe Cairo, Nassau County GOP chair, for the successful swoop in recent years.
“The Republican Party in Nassau County has the greatest local Republican leader in the country,” Mr. D’Amato told The Epoch Times. “Joe Cairo is incredible. He has motivated people by way of his own hard work and commitment. He never stops.”
The special election is Mr. Cairo’s 54th campaign, which he says has been challenging due to the short time frame. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that there would be a special election on Dec. 5, 2023.
But he is convinced Ms. Pilip will win despite Mr. Suozzi’s overwhelming name recognition.
“Mazi was probably barely known outside her legislative district but she has such a compelling story,” Mr. Cairo told The Epoch Times. “She’s such a nice person. She works so very hard that we think we overcame those obstacles.”
Ms. Pilip is an Ethiopian American of the orthodox Jewish faith who emigrated from the Horn of Africa to Israel and subsequently to the United States. She also served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
The George Santos Factor
One of Mr. Suozzi’s talking points has been to equate Ms. Pilip to Mr. Santos, who was recommended to Mr. Cairo by City Councilmember Joanne Arriola who, at the time, was chairwoman of the Queens Republican Party.
“My opponent represents the same old thing,” Mr. Suozzi said yesterday. “She represents exactly what’s been going on for much too long. In fact, she represents the person who held her seat before. She is Santos 2.0. We don’t want more of the same. We want change.”
Mr. Cairo accepts full responsibility for what happened with Mr. Santos.
“He’s a liar,” Mr. Cairo added. “Shame on us. I officiated high school football for over 45 years. If I could throw a penalty flag on myself, it would be a 15-yard penalty, not a five-yard penalty. It happened once. We won’t let it happen again.”