Thomas R. Suozzi, the Long Island Democrat whose failed bid for governor in 2022 may have helped clear the way for Representative George Santos to get to Congress, announced on Tuesday that he would run to replace Mr. Santos and take back his seat in the House of Representatives.
Tom Suozzi, during a 2022 campaign visit to Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, left his House seat for an unsuccessful run for governor that year.Credit…Amir Hamja for The New York Times
Why It Matters: Democrats see a major opportunity to flip the district, and the House.
Mr. Santos, a Republican, flipped a suburban district covering parts of Long Island and Queens last year that had largely favored Democrats, after Mr. Suozzi chose to run in the Democratic primary for governor instead of defending his seat in Congress. Mr. Santos’s victory helped his party narrowly take control of the House.
Democrats were already champing at the bit to win back the seat and others they lost in New York next year, hoping it could help them flip the House. They are already pouring money into the state, and hope to damage other New York Republicans by linking Mr. Santos’s issues — most notably a 13-count federal indictment — to them.
Republicans are eager to hold the line. They are also eyeing pickup opportunities. On Tuesday, Alison Esposito, a Republican who lost her bid for lieutenant governor last year, said she would challenge a Democratic incumbent, Representative Pat Ryan, in the Hudson Valley.
Before Mr. Santos even took office, he was dogged by scandal. The New York Times and other news outlets reported that he had lied to voters about much of his life. His campaign was found to have engaged in questionable fund-raising and spending, and his personal finances were murky.
Lies, Charges and Questions Remaining in the George Santos Scandal
George Santos has told so many stories they can be hard to keep straight. We cataloged them, including major questions about his personal finances and his campaign fund-raising and spending.
The Background: Santos’s court case is ongoing.
In May, Mr. Santos was charged in federal court with 13 felonies in three alleged financial schemes. Prosecutors have accused him of fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and false statements.
Mr. Santos has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and he has insisted he will remain in his race.
On Thursday, his former campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, pleaded guilty in a related case. In court, Ms. Marks said that she and an unnamed co-conspirator agreed to report false campaign donations and a fictional $500,000 loan that Mr. Santos said he made to his campaign.
That co-conspirator is understood to be Mr. Santos.
Prosecutors have not charged him with falsifying the loan or with other campaign finance violations. But his apparent involvement, which prosecutors documented with text messages and emails, would seem to leave him vulnerable to more charges.
Court documents filed last month suggested that Mr. Santos and prosecutors may be discussing a plea deal, though Mr. Santos has denied it. But a guilty plea or further charges would increase the pressure on him to leave or be removed from office.
What Happens Next
If Mr. Santos were to leave his seat, there would be a special election to replace him. In that case, local party leaders would pick their nominees.
Mr. Suozzi, a centrist Democrat who served six years in Congress, could be a prime choice for his party. Even after redistricting, the district largely resembles the one Mr. Suozzi represented, so he is familiar to voters there and has a track record he could cite against a Republican opponent.
If no special election takes place, Mr. Suozzi would have to win what is shaping up to be a crowded Democratic primary next June. Already, seven others have filed statements with the Federal Election Commission saying they were entering the race.
Mr. Santos, too, is facing challengers, with at least nine people filing similar documents for the Republican primary. He is expected to face a tough battle. Even before the criminal case, local Republican leaders said they would not back Mr. Santos’s bid.
The former House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, also said that he would not support Mr. Santos’s re-election. It is unclear whether Mr. McCarthy’s successor, once one is chosen, would change course.
Mr. Santos is next scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 27.