New York Democrats have nominated former Congressman Tom Swasey for the special election to succeed ousted Republican Congressman George Santos.
Suozzi previously represented New York’s 3rd Congressional District, on Long Island’s North Shore, for three terms before vacating the seat to launch an ultimately unsuccessful primary challenge against New York Gov. Kathy Hochul last year .
“Tom Swasey has a proven track record of fighting for his constituents, fighting to protect our suburban way of life here in Long Island and Queens, and always advocating for common sense solutions to the real challenges affecting everyday Americans,” Jay Jacobs and Congressman Gregory Meeks, the Nassau and Queens county Democratic chairmen, said in a joint statement.
Under New York’s special election rules, candidates are chosen by county party leaders in the district.
Hochul has scheduled a special election to fill the seat for Feb. 13.
The race to succeed Santos will take on added significance next year given the slim Republican majority in the House of Representatives — which will only thin, at least temporarily, with former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy leaving the chamber at the end of this year . The race is already being discussed as a key lead-up to the November 2024 general election.
Last week, Santos became only the sixth lawmaker to be expelled from Congress after an Ethics Committee report concluded that he “attempted to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House bid for personal financial gain.” Santos also pleaded not guilty to 23 federal charges, including allegations of fraud related to Covid-19 unemployment benefits, misuse of campaign funds and lying about his personal finances in House disclosure reports.
Swazi is expected to officially announce his campaign on Saturday.
“I have delivered for this district before and I will do so again by putting you ahead of partisanship. Let’s cut the crap and get back to work,” the former congressman said in a statement Thursday.
Republican leaders in Queens and Nassau counties have not yet announced a candidate. A request for comment was not immediately returned.
Swazi entered the race to challenge Santos in October before the congressman’s ouster. The support of county organizations will be critical to help direct resources and launch fundraising in what is expected to be a short and potentially low-turnout election.
Encompassing parts of Queens and Nassau counties, the district and its predecessors had long been represented by Democrats until Santos’ surprise victory in an open seat race in 2022. Two years earlier, Santos lost to Swazi by double digits.
Prior to his three terms in Congress, Swasey spent eight years leading Nassau County as county executive and also served as mayor of Glen Cove. Considered a moderate Democrat, Swasey also lost two bids for his party’s nomination for governor — he finished third in last year’s primary against Hochul and lost a 2006 bid to Eliot Spitzer. His primary challenge to Hochul was bitter, and the governor considered blocking his bid as a candidate for the 3rd district before clearing the way for him in exchange for certain concessions.
Swazi will be hoping that the backlash to Santos’ many scandals will threaten Republican momentum in the district. But his mission to win back the seat may prove more difficult than national observers expect, local Democrats recently told CNN’s Ronald Brownstein. While President Joe Biden would carry the district below its current lines by 8 points in 2020, the GOP has made electoral gains on Long Island since then, largely due to concerns about crime, immigration and inflation, including the high cost of housing.
This story has been updated with additional information.
CNN’s Gregory Krieg and Renee Rigdon contributed to this report.