Former NY State Sen. Anna Kaplan suspends campaign to be Democratic nominee to replace expelled GOP Rep. Santos in special election

 December 8, 2023

In the wake of disgraced former Rep. George Santos' (R-NY) expulsion from Congress, New York Democrats scrambled to pick a replacement to run in a special election to fill out the remainder of the expelled congressman's term in office.

Former Democratic New York State Sen. Anna Kaplan had been a top contender to be her party's choice but suspended her campaign on Thursday when another candidate was selected to be the nominee, The Hill reported.

Kaplan's quitting the race immediately followed an announcement from the New York Democratic Party that former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY), who previously served three terms as the elected representative of the now-vacant 3rd District, was the nominee to reclaim that congressional seat for the party.

Kaplan suspends campaign, endorses former rival

Former State Sen. Kaplan said in a Thursday statement, "We need to start 2024 off right, and that means electing Tom Suozzi to flip this seat and get Democrats closer to the majority."

"I am endorsing Tom because we need Democrats in office who will protect a woman's right to choose, defend Social Security and Medicare, and support Israel," she continued. "Throughout this campaign, I have been proud to put a woman's right to choose front and center, and I was heartened to see that Tom plans to embrace that fully in his campaign."

Kaplan went on to note that she had raised more than $1 million during her brief campaign to replace Santos, thanked her supporters, urged the party and Suozzi to "engage and excite" voters in what will likely be "an extremely competitive election," and revealed that she was "suspending our campaign" while also indicating that she would remain involved in politics in some form.

The Hill reported that Kaplan's campaign suspension and endorsement of Suozzi was remarkable in that, just days earlier, she had stridently warned against the former congressman being the Democratic nominee to replace Santos.

"If Tom Suozzi is nominated by Democratic Party leaders as the candidate for NY-03, it will not only endanger our chances for picking up this seat, it will do irreparable harm to National Democrats in 2024," Kaplan wrote in a thread of tweets last week that attacked Suozzi for not being supportive enough of abortion rights.

Suozzi left Congress for unsuccessful primary challenge against Gov. Hochul

Politico reported that former State Sen. Kaplan had been the last remaining rival against former Rep. Suozzi to replace ex-Rep. Santos in the upcoming special election and had already launched a normal campaign earlier in the year to try to be the Democratic nominee to face off against Santos in the 2024 election.

Suozzi, who had served three terms representing the 3rd District and even defeated Santos in his initial failed 2020 run, had decided to not seek re-election in 2022 and instead mounted a failed primary challenge against Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, according to Axios, but had launched a re-election campaign against Santos in October before the dishonest and criminally charged Republican's expulsion.

Politico noted that there were hard feelings that remained between Suozzi and Hochul following the 2022 battle but reported that the pair got together earlier this week to "clear the air and discuss campaign strategy."

Republicans immediately attack Democratic nominee Suozzi

New York Republicans have not yet decided on who their nominee will be in the Feb. 13 special election but have until Jan. 4 to make a decision. That, however, hasn't stopped the GOP from launching a preemptive attack against Democratic nominee Suozzi that referenced his questionable stock trading history and primary loss against the governor.

National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Savannah Viar said in a statement, "Tom Suozzi’s attempted comeback tour will be playing all the hits: self-enrichment, defunding the police, and raising taxes (just to name a few). Voters will reject Suozzi just like they did in his failed bid for governor last year."

As for the news that Suozzi and Hochul had patched over their past differences, Viar told Politico, "Given that voters are already fed up with her handling of crime and the migrant crisis, Tom Suozzi prostrating himself for Kathy Hochul is bound to end poorly for him."

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