The list of Democratic challengers vying to oust embattled Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., next year grew shorter Wednesday after candidate Zak Malamed dropped his bid for the closely-watched House seat. The announcement comes as New York’s Long Island grew increasingly red after Tuesday’s election, with Republican Ed Romaine flipping the Suffolk County Executive Office to GOP control for the first time in 20 years.
A handful of candidates have emerged to vie for Santos’ seat in what is expected to be part of a group of competitive congressional races in New York that could determine party control of the House. Santos’ seat is among five seen as key targets for New York Democrats who are trying to reverse a series of unexpected losses in the 2022 congressional elections.
Stepping out of the race, Malamed endorsed former U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y., to take on Santos instead.
“Nominating Tom Suozzi is our best chance to flip this district blue and end the toxic hold that MAGA Republicans have on Long Island and Congress at large,” Malamed said in a statement, according to Politico. “I have spent the past five months knocking on doors, speaking to voters and energizing donors across the district. I look forward to continuing that work to win this election and to inspire the next generation of leadership.”
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Other Democrats vying to take on Santos include former state Sen. Anna Kaplan, Josh Lafazan, William Murphy, Steve Behar, Scott Livingston, Austin Cheng and Darius Radzius. Last month, Malamed reported significant fundraising successes, reporting $524,000 in cash on hand after raising $302,000 over three months.
“This moment is too important for an intra-party fight,” Malamed said. “All of our collective energy needs to be on electing a Democratic majority who can deliver relief for the American people, aid for Israel and support for Ukraine.”
Suozzi had represented the 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Long Island and northeast Queens, before an unsuccessful campaign for governor last year. In October, he launched a campaign to retake the New York congressional seat held by Santos as the besieged Republican congressman faces a sprawling list of criminal charges.
“Today I’m filing a committee to run for Congress in November 2024,” Suozzi wrote on X, announcing the bid. “The madness in Washington, D.C., and the absurdity of George Santos remaining in the United States Congress is obvious to everyone.”
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An accountant and lawyer, he was elected to Congress in 2016 and survived a tough re-election in 2020. Suozzi previously served as mayor of Glen Cove from 1994 to 2001 and as Nassau County’s elected executive from 2002 to 2009.
Santos has so far resisted calls to resign following a federal indictment filed in May alleging he duped donors, embezzled money from his campaign, lied in financial disclosures submitted to Congress about being a millionaire and received unemployment funds when he was not eligible. He has pleaded not guilty.
Federal prosecutors filed a superseding indictment against Santos last month, alleging he also stole the identities of his political donors and used their credit cards to make tens of thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges.
In October, Santos’ ex-treasurer pleaded guilty to a fraud conspiracy charge and implicated Santos in a scheme to embellish his campaign finance reports with a fake loan and fake donors.
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After his election, news outlets revealed that Santos had fabricated large parts of his background, including making up stories about where he went to college and where he worked, telling people he was a Wall Street dealmaker with a real estate portfolio when he was actually struggling financially and had faced eviction from multiple apartments. Santos also lied about his heritage, saying he was Jewish when he was not.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.