The Santos dilemma – POLITICO

Rep. George Santos says he’ll spend at least another year in office, but House Republicans from across New York and in Nassau County want him defenestrated as soon as possible.

A push to expel Santos from office gathered new momentum Thursday when a House Ethics Committee report found he spent campaign funds on trips, Botox and a porn site.

Santos, who is also facing nearly two dozen federal felony fraud charges, quickly announced he would not seek reelection.

Nassau County GOP chair Joe Cairo in a statement said expulsion is still in “the best interest” of the voters in the congressional district.

It’s also, potentially, in the best interest of Republican officials.

But it’s a dilemma to the declared Republicans in the race, who would likely be shunted aside for whomever local GOP leaders pick to run in the resulting special election if Santos is expelled.

“As a taxpayer and resident of the district, I’d like to see him out yesterday,” Republican candidate Greg Hach told Playbook. “I think he’s done real damage to the integrity of our government.”

But Hach, an attorney, wants Republican voters to have a say.

“As a candidate, I really want to see an open and fair primary,” he said. “I think voters deserve to have a fair choice as to who represents them in Congress.”

Republican Kellen Curry, an Air Force veteran, said he’s been able to roll with the uncertainty.

“What you can control is getting up every day and knocking doors and connecting with voters,” he told Playbook, adding, “Every time I jumped into Afghanistan, I was dropped into uncertainty.”

Another Republican candidate, retired NYPD detective Mike Sapraicone, acknowledged a special election would likely help Republicans.

Nevertheless, the self-described “middle-of-the-road” guy also wants a chance at working in the increasingly dysfunctional chamber.

“I was a New York City detective for 20 years,” he said. “I love the circus. This is up my alley.”

If a Republican holds the seat in a special election, Democrats could face the prospect of running against an incumbent next November for a seat the party views as pivotal for regaining control of the House.

The Democratic field has also been narrowing. Zak Malamed and Josh Lafazan both announced in recent days they would drop their bids and endorsed former Rep. Tom Suozzi.

Suozzi’s biggest rival for the party’s nod, former state Sen. Anna Kaplan, showed no sign of giving up, however. Suozzi vacated the seat in 2022 after an unsuccessful primary for governor.

“People in the district deserve a representative who wants to be there,” Kaplan said.

Suozzi’s campaign declined an interview. In a statement posted to social media, Suozzi called Santos’ pending departure a “first step toward restoring some sanity.” — Nick Reisman

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