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Congressional candidates Suozzi and Pilip trade barbs in exclusive News 12 debate

February 9, 2024

Publication: News 12 Long Island

By: Kevin Vesey

Watch Debate Parts 1, 2 and 3

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The two candidates vying to replace George Santos in Congress went head-to-head in an exclusive News 12 debate.

Republican-backed candidate Mazi Pilip and Democrat Tom Suozzi had a spirited debate that, at times, became heated and personal.

Pilip portrayed Suozzi as a career politician tied to President Joe Biden and “the squad,” a group of congresswomen that includes Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Suozzi said Pilip is an inexperienced extremist who embraces far-right values.

The migrant crisis took centerstage during the early part of the debate. Pilip went on the attack, saying, “Tom Suozzi opened the border. Tom Suozzi, funding the century city. Tom Suozzi kicked ICE from Nassau County.”

In response, Suozzi said, “In 2018, when I was in Congress, I was one of only 18 Democrats to fund ICE. One of 18 Democrats. I went against my party.”

Suozzi accused Pilip of being short on ideas and policies. He challenged her to explain how she plans to restore the state and local tax deduction, known as “SALT.”

“Ms. Pilip points out problems. There’s a problem, there’s a problem. She has no solutions,” said Suozzi.

The debate was particularly contentious over the issue of abortion. Pilip insisted she would not vote for a nationwide abortion ban, despite an ad funded by House Majority Pac that said she would.

Pilip took an aggressive tone addressing Suozzi, saying, “You know what’s funny? You and men will tell Mazi Pilip, a mother of seven children, what’s women’s rights, what pregnancy is about.”

Suozzi responded by asking Pilip if she is pro-choice. Pilip responded by saying she is personally pro-life, and said, “It’s a personal decision, a personal choice. Every woman should have that choice.”

The special election for the 3rd Congressional District will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

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