Replacement Election Date Set After Santos Departure

( – The House of Representatives voted to oust Rep. George Santos (R-NY) on Friday, December 1, after a House Ethics Committee report unanimously recommended the action based on a subcommittee’s exhaustive investigation. On Tuesday, November 5, New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) announced the state would hold a special election on Tuesday, February 13, 2024, to replace Santos.

Nassau and Queens County leaders will choose candidates for their respective parties without a primary. Political observers expect Democrats to pick former Rep. Tom Suozzi, the previous seat-holder who ceded the seat to make an unsuccessful run for governor in 2022. Republicans are continuing to screen candidates and plan to announce a nominee soon.

Pundits believe the election could signal a bellwether for the November 2024 presidential election. Santos, the Republican candidate, won 54% of the vote in 2022 in the rare battleground county in traditionally blue New York.

Hochul and Suozzi met behind closed doors on Monday, December 4, to mend fences before the party announced the former lawmaker’s candidacy. The two Democrats ran a hotly contested gubernatorial campaign against each other last year.

Santos still faces a 23-count federal indictment for alleged offenses, including fraud, identity theft, money laundering, public funds theft, and lying to Congress. Federal prosecutors allege that Santos participated in conspiracies through which he coopted other people’s identities to solicit campaign funds or use donor credit cards without authorized consent and lied about loans and contributions to qualify for matching campaign funding. A judge has set a court date in September 2024.

Fast on the heels of Santos’ ouster, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced he would leave Congress at the end of the year. His departure will further reduce the GOP House majority, making partisan measures nearly impossible to pass.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) led a coalition of eight far-right Republicans to oust McCarthy from the Speaker’s seat on October 3, citing several instances where the Speaker cooperated with the administration to reach deals that Conservatives found unacceptable. Moreover, after he helped pass a Democrat-backed short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown, Freedom Caucus members moved against him to end his Speakership.

McCarthy became the first House Speaker in history to be removed from office due to a motion to vacate. He lasted only 269 days as Speaker, the third-shortest term in House history.

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