AMAC Exclusive – By Aaron Flanigan
A new report from the Daily Caller says that Democrats are spending almost three times more money than Republicans in the special election for the seat that GOP Rep. George Santos left vacant. The special election is on February 13, only a few weeks away. This news is another worrying sign that Republicans are not paying enough attention to special elections that could give Democrats a House majority before the November general election even happens.
The GOP has long neglected to invest the effort, money, and resources needed to win in important special elections—often all but giving up and letting the Democrat Party machine overpower conservatives with more spending, more organizing, and ultimately more votes.
This year, rectifying that problem has become even more urgent as the Republican House majority is on the line in special elections—and there is little room for error. House Republicans already held the 5th-smallest majority in U.S. history when they took the gavel in January 2023 at just nine seats. But now, as The New York Times reported on January 16, health issues and the resignations of several GOP members have left Speaker Mike Johnson in serious danger of not being able to cobble together an absolute majority, and created the possibility that Democrats could even reclaim control of the House before next January.
Perhaps the most imperative special election for Republicans this year falls on February 13, when voters from New York’s 3rd congressional district will vote to fill the seat of former Rep. George Santos, who was expelled from Congress last December by a vote of the House of Representatives.
In November 2022, Santos won the seat by a margin of 7.6 points, with 53.8 percent of the vote. However, the district also voted for Biden over Trump in 2020—making the February race a major bellwether that could make or break Republicans’ slim majority.
“New York is the absolute epicenter of the fight for the House majority,” a Democrat strategist said of the looming February showdown. “It will very likely be determined in New York.”
In the special election, Republican Mazi Melesa Pilip, an Israeli-American Nassau County legislator, will square off against former Democrat Congressman Tom Suozzi, who served in Congress from 2017 to 2023 before losing his seat to Santos.
While in Congress, Suozzi established himself as a far-left radical who voted in support of legislation like the so-called “For the People Act,” which would have resulted in a complete federal takeover of the election process, the extreme anti-religious liberty “Equality Act,” and all of Joe Biden’s massive spending packages. The prospect of his return to the U.S. Capitol—especially at a time when the House majority is up for grabs—should be of grave concern to every New York conservative. The GOP has no excuse to stand by and allow the seat to fall into Democrat hands.
Another crucial special election, this one slated for May 21, will determine who will fill the seat previously occupied by former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, which he held from 2007 up until his retirement at the end of 2023 in California’s 20th congressional district. Though McCarthy’s district is considered to be safely red, GOP leadership should by no means take it for granted. Following the district’s primary race in March, conservative leaders should do everything in their power to ensure McCarthy’s seat is not forfeited to a California leftist through neglect or underinvestment.
The other two special elections scheduled for this year will likely be far less competitive. On June 11, voters in Ohio’s 6th congressional district—a conservative safe haven—will vote to replace the seat of retiring Republican Rep. Bill Johnson. Later in the year, New York’s solidly blue 26th congressional district will also select the successor to Democrat Rep. Brian Higgins, who is set to retire this winter.
Nonetheless, the GOP should treat every special election this year with the seriousness it unquestionably deserves. For the last several years, Democrats have seismically outperformed Republicans in vital special elections—including in red and purple districts and states that have historically swung for Trump and other Republicans.
According to an article from ABC News in August 2023, “analysis from FiveThirtyEight found that in 38 special elections held so far this year, Democrats have outperformed the partisan lean—or the relative liberal or conservative history—of the areas where the races were held by an average of 10%, both romping in parts of the country that typically support the party while cutting down on GOP margins in red cities and counties, too.” Last year in particular, conservatives were hardest hit in states like Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Ohio in special elections.
If the Republican Party establishment hopes to regain the confidence of its voters, it must make every effort to win these special elections. Key conservative legislation, as well as the Biden impeachment inquiry and other Republican priorities, hang in the balance.
Although it would be entirely in character for GOP leadership to indifferently surrender its majority just months away from a vital presidential election, this time, passivity is not an option—and party leaders should understand that voters will be paying attention.
Aaron Flanigan is the pen name of a writer in Washington, D.C.