Truth-Telling in the New York House Election
February 13, 2024
Publication: The New York Times
By: Mara Gay
On Tuesday, voters will go to the polls on Long Island to replace George Santos, who was expelled from the House.
After two years of lies and drama from Santos, I thought it was a bit of a red flag when Mazi Melesa Pilip, the Republican running to replace him, refused for most of the campaign season to debate her Democratic opponent, Tom Suozzi.
After watching Pilip finally appear on the debate stage last week, I see why she had tried to avoid the ordeal.
Suozzi is a tried-and-true moderate Democrat and successful former congressman. Pilip, a Nassau County legislator recruited by the local Republican Party, is already showing signs she isn’t up to the job.
Again and again, Pilip, a Democrat-turned-Republican, could not seem to stake out a consistent position on any of the issues that matter to voters in this moderate district, which is east of New York City.
She has talked a big game about strengthening the southern U.S. border, to stem the tide of migrants to the New York City region, yet said she opposed the bipartisan bill before Congress that would do exactly that.
Pilip misled voters about her position on gun safety, boasting during the debate about supporting a federal ban on fully automatic guns that has been in place since 1986, but refusing to support a ban on semiautomatic weapons favored by a majority of Americans.
Pilip has said the Supreme Court “made the right decision” in overturning Roe v. Wade. This may be of particular interest to voters on Long Island, where 76 percent of voters have said they support keeping abortion legal. Yet Pilip uses language that suggests she supports abortion rights, when she does not: “I think when it comes to abortion, every woman should have that choice to make that decision,” she said at the debate, deceptively. Moments later, Pilip said something very different, after Suozzi pressed her: “I am pro-life.”
Polling suggests Suozzi is just four points ahead of Pilip. Strong turnout among civically minded voters in Nassau County (and a corner of Queens) may be the difference between sending a responsible public servant to Congress and sending another partisan provocateur instead.