Politics

House GOP’s majority shrinks as Democrats flip Santos’ New York seat

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Suozzi delivers his victory speech during his election night party in Woodbury, New York, on February 13. Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

As Democrats celebrate and Republicans dust themselves off, here are some key takeaways:

Immigration is a big issue – but is it a game-changer? Mazi Pilip and her fellow Republicans hammered Democrat Tom Suozzi over the migrant crisis in New York City, claiming he caused it along with Biden – a line that ultimately didn’t quite wash with voters who have long recognized Suozzi as a moderate or centrist.

Suozzi and state Democratic leaders countered Pilip’s migrant message and it never felt like the issue, typically a winner for the GOP, put Suozzi on the backfoot.

Redemption for top New York Democrats: Suozzi’s win is a major coup for the New York Democratic Party and its leaders, who came under heavy criticism from within over its candidates’ underwhelming performances in the 2022 midterms.

Suozzi’s success also provides Biden and national Democrats with a narrative reshuffle – a bit of good news when concerns over the president’s paltry poll numbers and intensifying worries over his age have stoked anxieties about the likely coming rematch with former President Donald Trump. The district broke cleanly for Biden in 2020, but Democrats on Long Island had been losing there ever since – until Tuesday.

The weather mattered: Heavy snow in the tri-state area Tuesday made travel tricky. A good thing for Democrats who, unlike many Republicans in thrall to Trump, embrace the idea of early voting.

Democrats (still) have an Israel problem: Suozzi was interrupted by protesters accusing him of aiding and abetting a “genocide” by Israel in Gaza. The interruptions were as much a message to Democrats, especially Biden, as the once and now future congressman from a heavily Jewish district.

Don’t take away too much: Democrats would be wise to remember that Suozzi was a unique candidate with deep ties across Nassau County, where most of the voters reside. Pilip, on the other hand, was a relative unknown going into the race and a relative unknown coming out of it.

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