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Blizzard set to impact Mazi Pilip vs. Tom Suozzi race for George Santos seat

Republican Mazi Pilip and Democrat Tom Suozzi each made last appeals to voters Monday in the neck-and-neck House race to replace ousted Long Island Rep. George Santos — though Mother Nature might have the final say.

Political insiders feared the storm that’s forecast to dump up to eight inches of snow on the region Tuesday could impact turnout in the nail-biter special election for the Third Congressional District covering much of Nassau County and portions of northern Queens.

 “As close as this race has been and after the millions of dollars that have been spent, the election might be decided by the weather gods,” said Lawrence Levy, dean of the national center of suburban studies at Hofstra University and a longtime observer of Long Island politics.

Some said the storm could give Suozzi, a former three-term congressman, an edge as thousands more Democrats turned out during the nine days of early voting in the nail-biter race.

But conservatives angered by issues such as the festering border crisis and displeasure with President Biden might be more motivated to shovel out their car out of snow and ice and drive to the polls to vote for Pilip, a Nassau County legislator.

“It could be a problem for both parties. There’s a diversity of opinion in both parties over the impact,” Levy said.

A winter storm is expected to potentially impact voter turnout in the special election to replace former Rep. George Santos in Queens and Long Island on Feb. 13, 2024. FOX Weather
The New York City metro area is expected to get several inches of snow. FOX

The Nassau Republican Party machine has a better election day “get out the vote” operation, something former US Sen. Al D’Amato — who has strong ties to the local GOP — hinted would help ensure the wet weather doesn’t impact turnout for Pilip.

“I don’t think the weather will have a big impact. We’ll have more people pulling voters out to the polls,” D’Amato told The Post, adding anger at state lawmakers and Washington will also spur folks to come out to cast their ballots.

“Mazi is going to win. Biden f—ked up. There’s a border crisis and people hate it,” D’Amato said.

He also noted Pilip — an orthodox Jew who served in the Israeli military — will do substantially better among even Democratic-leaning Jewish voters in the district because of Biden’s wishy-washy support of Israel in its war with Hamas.

Republican candidate Mazi Pilip arriving to vote early in Massapequa on Feb. 9, 2024. Adam Gray/Pool Photo via AP

Both candidates have distanced themselves from the president — and Pilip, in an interview on Fox 5’s “Good Day New York” Monday morning, stressed that her opponent backed many Biden policies when he was in Congress during the 2021-2022 term.

“The migrant crisis we’re facing right now. The illegal immigration coming into our country — these are things he [Suozzi] created,” Pilip said.

“He’s the one who is responsible. We have to told hold him accountable.”

Pilip added: “I’m going to secure our border. This is our job.”

Former Rep. Tom Suozzi said he is running to help “heal our country.” Edmund J Coppa

She noted she and her husband emigrated legally to the US from Israel and emphasized that immigration has to be done in a “planned” way, as opposed to the “mess” at the southern border with Mexico under Biden.

Suozzi, meanwhile, said he’s running as the candidate who will work across the aisle with the GOP and painted Pilip as “taking the extreme right wing positions of the Republican Party and refuses to compromise.”

“I’m not just running as a Democrat versus Republican. Let’s work together as Democrats and Republicans to heal our country,” Suozzi said on Fox 5.

He said he supported the Senate bill that included a compromise to tighten border security, but it crumbled under GOP opposition.

Nassau County Democratic leader Jay Jacobs said he was concerned about stormy weather back when the Feb. 13 special election date was set by Gov. Kathy Hochul — and that it was reason team Suozzi had emphasized the early voting period, which ended Saturday.

“I said, ‘we better be prepared for a blizzard in a special election because it could happen.’ What do you know? I should be in the weather business,” Jacobs quipped to The Post.

He said the slippery conditions could impact Republicans more, but that the whole issue could be overblown, as he expected the storm to clear out and conditions to improve.

The Suozzi campaign said it was increasing rides to the polls and would still have volunteers going door to door and continuing phone banks on Election Day, despite the snow.

Suozzi speaking to constituents at a bakery in Glen Cove on Feb. 12, 2204. JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

At least 11,000 more Democrats than Republicans voted early combined in the Nassau and Queens portions of the district, when factoring in absentee ballots that have been received, Jacobs noted.

Lisa Taylor, 39, a lifelong Long Islander who works at an ice cream shop, noted the snow won’t keep her home — and that she’ll turn out to vote for Pilip.

“I always vote … Because New York sucks and we need to change and we need to get rid of the people in charge,” Taylor told The Post Monday from Franklin Square, where Pilip was hosting rally later that evening.


Read more of The Post’s coverage on the special election to replace George Santos:

Republican Mazi Pilip is running against former Rep. Tom Suozzi in the special election to replace George Santos in New York’s Third Congressional District. Gabriella Bass; Kevin C. Downs for NY Post

Joe Bowler, 58, another lifelong Long Islander said he’d already voted early — for Pilip — but worried that the snow would depress turnout.

“It’s unfortunate but there’s a vacant seat that needs to be filled” he said of the election’s timing.

“It’s an aging community and a lot of people don’t like driving in the snow or going out in the snow or slipping in the snow,” he added.

The race to close out the last 11 months of Santos’ term has been heated, with ad spending topping $21.5 million — $13.6 million by Democrats-Suozzi to $7.9 million by Republicans-Pilip.

Republican cut the ad spending gap from 6 to 1 for Suozzi last month down to 2 to 1 in the final stretch.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Election Day.

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Written by SaleemBaloch

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