How Special Is New York’s Special Election?

Our guide to the themes dominating the race.

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How Special Is New York’s Special Election? |

Mazi Pilip, the Republican nominee in a special election for the New York House seat vacated by George Santos, was handpicked by the local party.

The special election in New York’s Third Congressional District on Tuesday will determine who will replace George Santos, the former Republican congressman and serial fabulist, for the remainder of the year. But the political ramifications may be felt far beyond the borders of Nassau County and Queens, with lessons for both parties in November.

The contest pits Mazi Pilip, a little-known Nassau County legislator running as a Republican, against Tom Suozzi, a Democrat who previously held the seat for three terms before leaving to run for governor. The race is expected to be tight — with the last-minute wild card of a major snowstorm on Election Day.

My colleague Nick Fandos, who has been closely following the race, reported today that the powerful Nassau County Republican machine is closely managing Pilip’s campaign. Her election filings do not show a single person on her campaign payroll, an extraordinarily unusual arrangement.

Here’s our guide to the themes dominating the race, and how they could play out in the 2024 general election.

Republicans have embraced immigration as their central issue, hoping to capitalize on suburban voter unease about the wave of migrants arriving in cities like New York. Pilip, who was born in Ethiopia before immigrating to Israel and then the United States, has campaigned in front of migrant shelters in Queens, accusing her opponent and President Biden of bringing “the border crisis to our front door.” Republicans have spent millions blanketing the airwaves with ads casting Suozzi as an “open-border radical.”

Suozzi, for his part, has refused to cede the issue, making a tougher stance on immigration a centerpiece of his campaign. He has called on Biden to lock down the border, and said a group of migrant men charged with assaulting police officers should be deported. He also criticized Pilip for opposing a bipartisan Senate border bill.

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