5 things to watch in today’s New York special election

5 things to watch in today’s New York special election

NEW YORK — Voters on Long Island and in parts of Queens are heading to the polls Tuesday — snow storm and all — to pick the successor to expelled Rep. George Santos in a key race that will serve as a bellwether of the national mood.

And the contest is expected to be a nail-biter, with polls showing former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi with a narrow lead over Republican-backed county legislator Mazi Pilip. But the weather will play key factors in the NY-03 race that is expected to draw low turnout but the eyes of the country.

The winner will serve the remainder of Santos term this year and will help solidify a swing seat after Republicans swept all four seats on Long Island in 2022, propelling the GOP to the House majority.

And the race kicks off what will be at least six battleground races in New York, which will be front and center over the fight for House control in November.

Here are five things we’ll be watching as the votes come in: 

National vs. local

The next House lawmaker from the district will likely be confronted with votes of global consequence including aid for allies like Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan. The winner will be a crucial vote in any deal to keep the federal government open.

“The nation is watching what happens here,” Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik said Monday night at a Nassau County rally for Pilip. “The world is watching what happens here.”

But the race could also turn on a handful of key local issues important to Long Islanders — such as like housing and the controversial congestion pricing toll plan for Manhattan, a move that is expected to hit suburban commuters.

Redistricting redo

This seat may soon look different with a court-order round of redistricting expected to yield a new House map for New York by the end of this month.

It’s not clear yet if the state’s redistricting commission — evenly divided among Democrats and Republicans — will be able to broker a deal and come up with a map or if the process will be kicked to the Democratic supermajorities in the state Legislature.

But come November, Suozzi or Pilip will be running with an altered set of voters and potentially recalibrating their message along the way.

Snow whoa

Turnout is the name of the game in special elections, and the wintry weather expected could keep voters at home.

A lot of snow could be bad for Republicans, in particular, since they’re counting on day-of votes to make up for the Democrats’ apparent lead in the early and absentee vote.

“I’m asking people to go out and do their patriotic duty, Republican, Democrat, independent,” Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman told reporters.

“I would tell you to stay home if it’s to go for an errand or to get your nails done or to go to the barbershop or something that can wait a day or two. But this is the election.”

Santos saga

“Miss me yet?” Santos taunted on X after House Republicans failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

The battle to fill his seat may help the district move on from the saga of the indicted representative, who misled voters about his biography and stands accused of fraud.

Suozzi, the Democratic candidate, has sought to label Pilip as “George Santos 2.0,” as a reminder of how little the public knows about her.

Nassau County Republicans, meanwhile, don’t mention him unless they’re asked about him.

“Page turned, page turned,” GOP Rep. Anthony D’Esposito said succinctly.

When will we know the winner?

Polls close at 9 p.m.

But the Nassau County Board of Elections is notoriously slow to report results.

And everyone is expecting a close race. We could be in for a late night.

Or a long week.

A version of this article first appeared in New York Playbook. Subscribe here.

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