Nor’easter Endangers Voter Turnout in NY Special Election to Replace George Santos

The election results will further define the balance of power in Congress for the next nine months.

Voters of Nassau County and some parts of Queens will decide the fates on Tuesday of Congressional candidates Republican Mazi Pilip and Democrat Tom Suozzi as well as set the political tone nationwide for November’s general election.

However, a winter storm that includes snow and rain is expected to seriously curtail voter turnout.

The National Weather Service predicts up to 10 inches of snow that may block streets in New York and Long Island.

Ms. Pilip, however, is undeterred. She urged her supporters last night at the North Valley Stream GOP Club in Franklin Square, New York, to get to the finish line.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s going to rain or snow, we can safely go out,” she said. “We’re going to encourage people safely to go to vote because we’re talking about saving our country.”

Electing Ms. Pilip or Mr. Suozzi to represent Congressional District 3 (CD-3) will further define the balance of power in Congress for the next nine months and help both political parties identify campaign strategies for the presidential elections in November.

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Currently, there are 212 Democrat members of Congress, 219 Republicans, and four vacant seats.

“Let’s look to the results of this race,” Mr. Suozzi said at a Feb. 11 press conference in his Plainview campaign headquarters.

“Does my message of working together and finding common ground carry the day or does her message  ’my way or the highway extremism’ same as Mike Johnson and Donald Trump’s?”

Early Votes 

More than 57,000 voters cast ballots in Nassau County during the early voting period, according to the Nassau County Board of Elections. Of the total, 42 percent were Democrats, 34 percent were Republicans, and 20 percent were unaffiliated with a major party.

The special election came about after it was discovered that disgraced former Congressman George Santos (R-N.Y.) embellished his resume, lied about his religious affiliation, allegedly violated federal law and reportedly participated in identity theft and improper campaign reports.

Although he was elected fair and square, Congress removed Mr. Santos on Dec. 1, 2023, and on Dec. 5, 2023, New York Governor Kathy Hochul scheduled a special election for Feb. 13.

The election is not only special but also unusual because its taking place in the middle of winter, according to Phil Orenstein, president of the Queens Village Republican Club who has never promoted an election in the snow in the 20 years he’s been campaigning,  

“Special elections happen whenever they happen but not often during the winter months,” Mr. Orenstein told The Epoch Times. “The primaries are in June, and the general election is in November, and the weather’s pretty good. Once it was raining but the turnout was good even in the rain.” 

Democrat candidate Tom Suozzi greets a supporter in front of Tony's Beechurst Deli in Whitestone, Queens, on Feb. 10, 2024. (Courtesy of Juliette Fairley)
Democrat candidate Tom Suozzi greets a supporter in front of Tony’s Beechurst Deli in Whitestone, Queens, on Feb. 10, 2024. (Courtesy of Juliette Fairley)

Areas of Queens Village that fall under CD-3’s catchment include Little Neck, New Hyde Park, and Douglaston. 

A Newsday/Siena College poll found that between Feb. 3 and Feb. 6, 49 percent think Ms. Pilip will do a better job ‘addressing the migrant influx’ compared to Mr. Suozzi’s 40 percent but when asked who would do better at ‘protecting our democracy,’ 49 percent named Mr. Suozzi compared to 40 percent who named Ms. Pilip.

“The country is just falling apart under Biden, so people are very motivated to vote for Mazi,” Mr. Orenstein added.

“Some of the voters I’ve spoken to plan to put their snow shoes on and get out there.”

Currently, the weather forecast includes rain and snow, which is likely to impede the momentum of both candidates.

Last night, the National Weather Service upgraded its forecast to a winter storm warning.

Despite the snow, Democrats plan to be in the streets getting their votes out for Mr. Suozzi, according to Nassau County Democrat Chairman Jay Jacobs.

“Our vote tends to come in heavier in the afternoon, and it looks like the weather will clear by then, so that’s good for us,” Mr. Jacobs told The Epoch Times.

“The Republican vote comes in heavy in the morning, which isn’t good for them. Another thing that’s not good for them is that a lot of their workers are supposed to be knocking on doors but should be sitting in plow and sanding trucks.”

With the winter storm warning, New York City public schools are closed in all five boroughs, including Queens.

Some public schools in Nassau County are also closed.

“As we do for every weather event, our great men and women of our Department of Public Works will be out early this morning,” Republican Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman told The Epoch Times.

“They will be doing what they have to do. The roads will be clear and you’ll be able to exercise your right to vote here in Nassau County.”

GOP Candidate Mazi Pilip celebrating at a rally in Franklin Square, N.Y., on Feb. 12, 2024, with Nassau County GOP Chair Joe Cairo, Lee Zeldin, former Congressman Peter King, and Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman. (Courtesy of Juliette Fairley)
GOP Candidate Mazi Pilip celebrating at a rally in Franklin Square, N.Y., on Feb. 12, 2024, with Nassau County GOP Chair Joe Cairo, Lee Zeldin, former Congressman Peter King, and Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman. (Courtesy of Juliette Fairley)

The town of Oyster Bay has put out salt and sand, according to Republican Supervisor Joseph Saladino.

“It’s about making sure the streets are safe and that we plow every road so that no matter what community you’re from and no matter who you’re voting for, you can get to the polls safely,” Mr. Saladino told The Epoch Times.

Although inclement weather doesn’t help either party in an election, former Congressman Peter King (R-N.Y.) believes Republican candidates locked in a tight race outperform Democrats when there’s bad weather.

“We have 2,000 committeemen,” Mr. King told The Epoch Times.

“We have a strong organization, and that has to mean at least a few votes in every election district, but you’d rather not have the snow. It’s a gamble.”

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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