Polls show a tight race between Suozzi and Pilip in the district, which covers part of Long Island and Queens.
Nationally, both parties are investing millions of dollars in the contest, but Democrats have spent twice as much as Republicans on advertising — $13 million total over just 10 weeks, according to the New York Times.
Democrats could typically hold an advantage in a special election to replace a disgraced Republican who has been denounced by his own party. At first glance, the 3rd District might even appear to be an ideal battleground for Democrats, who have recently made strong gains in America’s suburbs.
But Long Island was an exception, trending redder under the Biden administration. Including the seat most recently held by Santos, Republicans represent all four congressional districts in the Nassau County area.
So it’s no surprise that national Republicans are working to keep Santos’ district in the red and avoid further shrinking the party’s already slim majority in the House.
Democrats, meanwhile, view the seat as a crucial step in their plan to win back the majority in the House, as well as an opportunity to test some policy messaging as the election year begins.
Pilip, a Nassau County lawmaker, has worked to make the race a referendum on immigration, a galvanizing issue for Republicans across the country — and one that has angered New York’s leaders in recent months.
Suozzi has taken a harder line on immigration than many of his fellow Democrats running for Congress, and he countered Pilip’s attacks by calling her an extremist for her opposition to a bipartisan border deal.
Democrats also sought to tie Pilip to Santos, who had been shunned by his own voters long before being forced out of his seat.
In addition to fighting, Suozzi and Pilip face another challenge: a major storm that broke out overnight and has already dumped several inches of snow on New York City.
The storm, which is expected to be the most severe the city has seen in two years, has taken a toll on rush hour traffic and could affect turnout later in the day.
Last year, a federal grand jury on Long Island charged Santos with a range of crimes, including spending campaign contributions on personal luxury goods and lying on his House financial disclosure forms.
He pleaded not guilty to those charges and another set of allegations that were added to his record five months later.
Santos had served only 11 months in Congress when he was expelled. His criminal trial is scheduled for mid-September.
This is developing news. Please check again for updates.