It’s A Wrap: Week Seven Of The Legislative Session

The February 16, 2024 edition of New York Families’ Weekly Wrap-up focuses on election-related updates.

February 13, 2024:

  • In New York’s 3rd congressional district, Democratic former Rep. Tom Suozzi defeated the Republican Party candidate, Mazi Pilip, by a 54%-46% margin (unofficial). Rep. Suozzi is scheduled to be sworn in to the House of Representatives on February 28, 2024. Absent any further House personnel changes between now and then, Rep. Suozzi’s arrival will shrink House Republicans’ precarious majority to two seats.

Some things in politics follow a predictable pattern, and the aftermath of a congressional special election is one of those things. As surely as night follows day, members of the winning party will assert that the special election victory is a sign of their party’s strength and momentum heading toward the next general election. If the winning party happens to be the party in power, members of that party will take the view that the special election result demonstrates that their policies are right, good, and popular with the electorate.

For a variety of reasons, the Democrats would be wise not to let the results in NY-3 make them overly confident about the November elections. First, Rep. Suozzi is a household name in Nassau County. He has served as mayor of the city of Glen Cove, as Nassau County Executive, and as a member of Congress. In stark contrast, Mazi Pilip is a little-known county legislator who has served in public office for two years. Name recognition matters in politics, and so does experience. Second, NY-3 is a swing district, but the most recent party enrollment data shows that Democratic voters outnumber Republican voters there by more than 60,000. Third, Pilip had the distinct disadvantage of seeking election on the Republican line in a district that was most recently represented by a Republican—disgraced former Rep. George Santos—who flagrantly lied to the voters about nearly every aspect of his biography and resumé. Fourth, when the abortion issue was raised during the candidates’ debate, Pilip mishandled it; while calling herself pro-life, she insisted that women should be allowed to make their own reproductive decisions. Rep. Suozzi was able to capitalize on her confusing and self-contradictory answer, making it appear that Pilip was either unable to articulate a clear position or afraid to do so. This problem was not confined to the debate, either; Pilip’s messaging on abortion was awkward throughout her campaign.

One lesson for the Republican Party to learn from the results in NY-3 is this: Don’t pick candidates who try to have it both ways on abortion. Pick candidates who aren’t afraid to take a stand, and take the right stand.

  • In the Bronx, a special election was held in Assembly District 77 to fill the vacancy created by the January resignation of Asm. Latoya Joyner. Democratic attorney Landon Dais defeated Republican Norman McGill, 74%-21%, in the low-turnout special election.

February 14, 2024:

  • Asm. Phil Steck (D-Loudonville) announced that he would not seek re-election in Assembly District 110 this fall. Instead, Asm. Steck intends to challenge longtime Albany County District Attorney David Soares, a fellow Democrat. Soares has been a welcome voice of reason in regard to some of the unwise criminal justice policies promoted by members of his own party in recent years. Recently, however, Soares has received negative media attention because he used state grant funding to give himself a substantial pay hike. (He has since promised to pay the money back.) Asm. Steck’s decision to vacate his Assembly seat could lead to a competitive November race in the suburban 110th Assembly district, which is based in the Capital Region town of Colonie.

February 15, 2024:

  • The New York State Legislative Redistricting Commission voted to approve a new set of congressional district maps. According to City & State NY, the new maps do not make dramatic changes to the existing maps. They do, however, make New York’s 22nd congressional district—which is currently represented by Republican Rep. Brandon Williams—slightly more Democrat-leaning than it is now. Whether the Democrat-controlled Legislature will approve these maps or attempt to gerrymander the congressional maps like they did two years ago remains to be seen.