The outcome of Long Island’s special election for Congressional District 3 is far from certain and Democrat candidate Tom Suozzi isn’t leaving the seat to chance.
The Feb. 13 special election for the representative of CD-3, spanning Nassau County and a part of Eastern Queens, takes place in two days.
As a result, Mr. Suozzi’s campaign schedule on Saturday morning was full.
The first stop was Tony’s Beechhurst Deli in Whitestone, Queens, where Mr. Suozzi greeted supporters and visited with the deli owner Emilio Polito who he’s known since 2016.
Peter Ridge, 45, a Beechhurst personal injury attorney, was among the Suozzi fans at the deli who believe he will bring normalcy back to Congress by being a “raging moderate.”
“With all this infighting, we need somebody who’s going to bring the temperature down in this country,” Mr. Ridge told The Epoch Times. “We need somebody who’s got reasonable solutions for reasonable people. We need more raging moderates and not people who are so polarized to the left or right.”
Mr. Suozzi is in the fight of his political life to date against GOP candidate Mazi Pilip over the seat that was vacated by disgraced former Rep. George Santos, who was expelled by Congress on Dec. 1, 2023.
A Newsday/Siena College poll determined that 48 percent of voters support Mr. Suozzi compared to 44 percent for Ms. Pilip. Seven percent were undecided.
Although Mr. Suozzi represented CD-3 previously, his opponent this time checks all the politically correct boxes in an era where white skin is no longer necessarily the advantage it used to be.
Ms. Pilip is not only a woman but also Black and Jewish in a district in which 11 percent of the voting population is of the Jewish faith, according to the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA).
But Jewish people won’t vote as a block, Black people only make up 2.8 percent of the district, and Asians who live in the Queens area of the district are unpredictable, according to Steven R. Schlesinger, a Nassau County attorney who represents Democrat and Republican candidates in various election legalities.
“The more religious Jews will favor Mazi and the less religious ones will be split between Mazi and Suozzi,” Mr. Schlesinger told The Epoch Times. “The Northeast part of Queens weren’t Suozzi’s people. He wasn’t in that area before and no one knows how the Asians line up between a black Jewish woman and an Italian old liner.”
At 17.6 percent, Asians are the second largest ethnic group in the district after Whites who make up 65.5 percent of the population followed by Hispanics (8.1 percent) and African Americans at 2.8 percent, according to Data Usa.
Ming Chiang, a 55-year-old Taiwanese business owner from Woodbury, New York, sees Mr. Suozzi as the candidate who has proven himself to be experienced as an elected official.
Mr. Suozzi previously served as the mayor of Glen Cove for eight years and in Congress three terms.
“I think he will be a huge plus if we can elect him again,” Mr. Chiang told The Epoch Times. “If he doesn’t win, we’re going to have a lot of dysfunctional Republicans in the House who will continue to dominate. So, hopefully with the majority, Democrats can take control of the House and get things done again.”
Fittingly, the second stop on Mr. Suozzi’s campaign trail was the Lunar New Year Parade in Flushing, Queens, and then his campaign headquarters where he held a press conference among cheering canvassing volunteers.
Juliet Gregorio, 70, who lives in Whitestone, Queens, favors Mr. Suozzi because she feels he is inclusive.
“He works for everybody,” Ms. Gregorio told The Epoch Times. “I’m Armenian and he was one of the congressmen that pushed our bill across to have the United States recognize the Armenian genocide perpetrated by the Turks. I’m totally indebted to him, and when I meet him, he says hello to me in Armenian. He’s a very nice person.”
Journalists clamored with questions about the immigrant crisis in New York, which has been blamed on President Joe Biden’s administration and its border policies.
Mr. Suozzi responded that his election would partly restart a bi-partisan border discussion.
“If I win this race, because of the attention this race has garnered and because of the fact that if I’m sworn in on the floor of the United States Congress, I‘ll get to give a speech to my colleagues. And I’ll say to my colleagues, both Democrat and Republican, ‘Wake up,'” he said. “People are sick of this. They want us to work together to solve the problems that they face.”
But when asked whether President Biden’s cognitive abilities concern him, Mr. Suozzi was less verbose.
“No,” he said. “I know he’s an elderly man … I’m not concerned about his mental acuity, but I know he’s an old guy. He’s 81 years old. That’s an objective fact.”
Mr. Biden escaped prosecution this week over the way he handled classified documents based on a report by Robert Hur, the special counsel who said he wouldn’t charge the president because he could portray himself as an “elderly man with a poor memory” to a sympathetic jury.
Former President Donald Trump criticized Mr. Hur’s decision.
“If Joe Biden is not fit to charge, they are not going to judge him with a crime, but it’s OK for him to become commander in chief?” he challenged in South Carolina, according to CNN. “Biden is bad for democracy because he’s grossly incompetent.”
Given the current discord among the competing political parties, Democrat and Suozzi supporter Charles Kaufman, 55, believes the district could benefit from what he perceives as Mr. Suozzi’s steadiness.
“I voted for him before and I think we’re at a critical time here where we need his stability,” Mr. Kaufman told The Epoch Times. “I’m on my co-op board and we have a big problem with our local law 97.”
Local law 97 implemented restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions that started this year.
Mr. Kaufman, who lives in Bay Terrace, hopes that if Mr. Suozzi is elected, he will vote on legislation for relief and back candidates who are working on the issue.
“We are going to need legislation to help us financially deal with this burden of going carbon neutral,” Mr. Kaufman added.
Juliette Fairley is a freelance reporter for The Epoch Times and a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Born in Chateauroux, France, and raised outside of Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, Juliette is a well-adjusted military brat. She has written for many publications across the country. Send Juliette story ideas at [email protected]