Uncertainty for Republicans after House expels George Santos

December 4, 2023

Last week saw Congress vote to expel New York Republican Rep. George Santos after he was indicted on a slew of federal charges.

That move has further reduced the GOP's already thin majority and left Republicans scrambling to find a replacement. 

Strategist: It is "always tough" for Republicans in New York

According to The Hill, New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul is required by law to call a special election within 10 days of Santos' departure, with voters going to the polls 70 to 80 days after that.

Tom Doherty is a New York Republican strategist, and he told The Hill that it is "always tough" for a Republican to get elected in the Empire State.

Doherty said the exception to that rule is found in largely rural districts such as the one represented by House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik.

He pointed to Reps. Mike Lawler, Marc Molinaro, Anthony D’Esposito, and Brandon Williams as examples of Republican candidates who have been able to win in New York.

Lawler seen as a model for New York Republicans

Doherty highlighted Lawler's reaction when Democrat Liz Whitmer Gereghty announced that she was dropping out of her party's primary race.

"I want to wish Liz Gereghty the best. Running for office is not for the faint of heart. While there is much we disagree on, I appreciate her willingness to put her name forward and get in the arena," Lawyer wrote in a post on the social media platform previously known as Twitter.

"That’s why independents will feel comfortable with Mike Lawler," Doherty told The Hill. "That’s why he was able to win the election in the first place."

Race regarded as a toss up

Santos won in 2022 by roughly eight points in New York's 3rd Congressional District, an area of Long Island which has traditionally leaned Democratic.

The Hill noted that the non-partisan Cook Political Report characterized the upcoming special election as being a toss-up.

Lawrence Garvey serves as chair of New York's Rockland County Republican Committee, and said that while Democrats may point to the charges Santos faces, he said the issue "cuts both ways" as New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez is also under indictment.

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