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George Santos

George Santos. Photo courtesy George Santos Facebook page

By Aidan Johnson

A familiar face is joining the race for the 1st Congressional District.

On the night of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address of March 7, former Congressman George Santos (R) announced via social media platform X — formerly Twitter — he is running for the seat.

“Tonight, I want to announce that I will be returning to the arena of politics and challenging Nick [LaLota] for the battle over NY1. I look forward to debating him on the issues and on his weak record as a Republican,” Santos posted.

In the same post, Santos claimed that New York “hasn’t had a real conservative represent them since I left office arbitrarily, thanks to empty suits like Nick LaLota.”

LaLota (R) was one of 311 House members from both sides of the political aisle on Dec. 1, 2023 who voted to remove Santos from office due to a report from the House Ethics Committee.

According to a statement from the Ethics Committee, the Investigative Subcommittee found “substantial evidence” that Santos had engaged in illegal activity including using campaign funds for personal purposes and knowingly causing his campaign committee to “file false or incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission.”

Currently, Santos faces a 23-count indictment by federal prosecutors in New York for offenses including wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering.

In an interview, LaLota expressed skepticism on whether or not Santos was actually planning on running in the 1stt District, and if he would even get enough signatures through petitioning to qualify for the ballot. [For inclusion on the House ballot, the candidate needs 5% of voters from the candidate’s same party or 15,000 signatures, whichever is less.]

“I’m highly skeptical of the things that George Santos says … but if it is true [that he is running], it’s retaliation against me for leading the charge to expel him from Congress,” LaLota said.

“I think he’s a long shot to qualify to get in the ballot,” LaLota said, adding “I just don’t think there’s that much support for George anywhere in this country, but especially on Long Island.”

Jesse Garcia, Suffolk County chairman of the Republican Party, who recently criticized News 12 for including Santos as a guest on its “Power and Politics” program, released a statement denouncing him as a credible candidate.

“The people have no appetite for this bad comedy show to continue. His candidacy and whatever petitions he might file will have the same level of credibility as the degree he claimed to have received from Baruch College,” Garcia said, additionally calling LaLota “a commonsense conservative and naval veteran who continues to fight for the hardworking families of Long Island.”  

Suffolk County Republicans are not the only ones criticizing Santos. In a statement, Democratic 1st Congressional District candidate Nancy Goroff said “This would be funny if it weren’t so serious to see George Santos and Nick LaLota fight to see who is more extreme. The reality is that both oppose a woman’s right to choose, have failed to lower costs for families and care more about publicity than getting things done for Long Island families. Not to mention that neither actually lives in the district.”

The other Democratic 1st Congressional candidate John Avlon could not be reached for comment.

Unsplash photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Has anyone noticed that there seems to be a conspicuous lack of shame in our society? One could also point out, in the lacking department, the disappearance of honor. And to a great extent, of respect. Yes, and even civility, courtesy, apology and politeness. 

Now I am not pointing a finger at any particular demographic, as in, “In my generation, we always stood up if we were seated, when introduced to an elderly lady,” or “Children shouldn’t talk to their teachers that way.” Members of older generations have traditionally found fault with those coming up after them, for being less ambitious, or mannerly or some such. But I would hope I am not just another cranky, older person. No, I’m referring to something else, something more sinister in our present culture.

Now I am not accusing everyone here. Just saying that these qualities seem to be a lot less evident in today’s world. I guess if you never need to tell the truth, you never have to admit that you lost a tennis match … or an election. 

That loss of good sportsmanship is troubling. I like to see, for example, when the other two participants in a nightly round of “Jeopardy!” turn and applaud the winner at the end of the contest. It makes me feel that we are all together as part of a community when the ball teams each form a line and shake hands with the opposing team members, however competitive the preceding game might have been.

George Santos (R-NY3), the newly elected Congressman from Queens, is a case in point. He is merely a product of our times, if an extreme one. While he now admits to falsifying the resume he campaigned on, he seems to consider his behavior acceptable, exaggerating not lying. During Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, he unabashedly sashayed around the room, sitting in one of the most visible seats, shaking hands with many senators and the president, even taking selfies. He clearly feels no shame about his actions and no sense of consequence. What sort of culture does he come from? The answer is: one in which the lack of all the above attributes rule.

Santos is not the first such example, of course. I am reminded of the historic, “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” question asked of Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) by soft spoken American lawyer, Joseph Nye Welch, for the Army during the infamous Army-McCarthy hearings. Those hearings searched for Communist activities in the early 1950s on behalf of the Senate. McCarthy lied his way to power, but Welch’s immortal query, in effect, ended his career, as his Republican colleagues no longer accepted his erratic antics, censured and ostracized him.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), before Biden’s speech and noting Santos’s actions, told him he “shouldn’t have been there,” meaning front and center in the House, and had no shame. But so far, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA20) — odd repetition of names — has not publicly challenged or denounced him. 

“He shouldn’t be in Congress,” Romney said, when he was questioned by the press after Biden’s speech about the testy exchange with Santos . “If he had any shame at all, he wouldn’t be there.”

Far from shame, Santos tweeted Romney, “Hey @MittRomney, just a reminder that you will NEVER be PRESIDENT!” Romney, of course, lost his presidential bid in 2012.  

Perhaps in the culture of today, not only does one refrain from acknowledging wrongdoing but rather, when challenged, comes back fighting. How far we have come in our ethics evolution. Sounds a bit like Putin, doesn’t it? 

Republican George Santos, left, and Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi, right, are asking for residents’ votes for the NY3 House seat. Left, photo from campaign; right, file photo

Longtime politician and two-term congressman Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) is in the race against newcomer Queens Republican George Santos over the 3rd Congressional District seat. TBR News Media spoke with Santos about why he is running and what he can bring to the table. Suozzi did not respond to several requests for either an online debate or a phone interview. 

The second-term Democrat from Glen Cove has been in politics for almost three decades. From 1994 through 2001 he served as mayor of Glen Cove and was elected Nassau County Executive from 2002 to 2009. 

Suozzi, 58, is battling Santos, 32 from Whitestone, on the race to be the Western Long Island voice in Washington. This is Santos’ first run at office and he said he wants to bring his experience in the finance world to congress. 

Santos is a first-generation born to immigrant parents. Born and raised in Queens, he said he comes from a humble beginning. He started off as an entry-level asset manager and an associate at Citi Group, as well as worked with several fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs. He has worked in the private equity space for 11 years. 

“I’m very proud of the work I’ve accomplished in the private sector,” he said. “And I think it’s that kind of work ethic and knowledge that I want to bring into public service, especially now following a crisis, we’re going to need more people who understand business more so than lawyers.”

Santos said he wants to reduce unemployment numbers and bring them back to before the pandemic. 

“I’ve created north of 500 jobs myself, I know how to do it. I know the skills,” he said.

He added that he would work hard to change school funding to be derived from one’s income tax, not property tax. 

“That would solve a lot of the heartache for millions of Americans who are taxed with property taxes and feel unfair,” he said. Santos also noted that he does not support the Green New Deal and would look to restore respect for law enforcement while encouraging community cooperation to re-establish public safety. 

Suozzi’s record shows his investment in the environment. serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, is vice-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, co-chair of the bipartisan Long Island Sound Caucus, co-chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus, and this Congress and was appointed by the Speaker of the House to the Congressional Executive Commission on China.

He has spoken on veteran care and rights, affordable healthcare and fiscal responsibility during his 25-year political tenure. 

Because TBR News Media was unable to contact Suozzi for an interview, we cannot choose to endorse a candidate for the third congressional district.