After schlepping to the governor's mansion on Monday night to grovel before Gov. Kathy Hochul in a secret meeting, former Rep. Tom Suozzi is now set to become the Democratic Party's pick for the upcoming special election to replace George Santos, according to a new report by the New York Times' Nicholas Fandos. Shortly after that story ran, Hochul issued a proclamation scheduling the election to fill New York's vacant 3rd Congressional District for Feb. 13.
In that after-hours get-together, Hochul laid out a series of demands to Suozzi, two unnamed sources told Fandos, including that he "agree to run as a full-throated defender of abortion rights" and "would not run ads damaging their party's brand." Suozzi had been hammered for his wobbly stance on abortion by his top Democratic rival, former state Sen. Anna Kaplan, including his past funding for abstinence education programs and his opposition to allowing Medicaid to pay for abortions.
He also earned Hochul's ire last year when he sought to deny her the chance to run for a full term by running a reactionary campaign for the Democratic nomination in which he assailed her for allegedly failing to address crime and fostering a "culture of corruption" in Albany. Suozzi's stillborn insurgency netted him just 13% of the vote in the primary, good enough for a distant third-place finish. But Hochul and her supporters blamed his attacks for giving ammunition to Republican Lee Zeldin, who amplified them in the general election and forced Hochul to sweat out a narrow 53-47 win.
Now, though, Hochul appears ready to move on. "The governor will allow his nomination to move forward," a spokesperson said in a statement following her meeting with Suozzi. Local Democrats previously said they would formally announce their choice this week.
Republicans, meanwhile, still have yet to choose their nominee, but Fandos reports that a pair of "front-runners had emerged": businessman Mike Sapraicone, a retired New York Police Department detective, and Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip, a former paratrooper with the Israel Defense Forces who was born in Ethiopia. Republicans have also said they expect to unveil their pick this week.
Whatever happens in February, both parties will hold primaries for a full two-year term on June 25, with a candidate filing deadline likely in late March.