CNN has their top reporting team on the George Santos case. Yesterday, Melanie Zanona, Manu Raju and Edward-Isaac Dovere reported that the criminally insane Santos may run again. I don’t see that, since he’ll be severely primaried with the Long Island Republican Party united against him and behind state Sen. Jack Martins, and because he’ll have been indicted by then, if not already tried. I kind of recall that one conservative lunatic, James Traficante (a Neo-Nazi), actually ran for his Ohio House seat while he was in prison, after being convicted on bribery and tax evasion charges. He lost but got nearly 30,000 votes. He served for 7 years. After serving his term, he ran again— and lost again, but getting even more votes than he did when he ran from his prison cell. Many Ohio voters have always had a soft spot for neo-Nazis. Anyway… Traficante was far more popular than Santos and not nearly as crazy. I suspect Santos willet way more than 7 years and he won’t come close to 30,000 votes, whether in prison or not.
The 3 CNN reporters wrote that “After previously signaling to Republicans he wouldn’t seek reelection, Santos has recently been telling people he is considering running for a second term, according to multiple Republican sources, and privately insists he will ultimately be cleared of all wrong-doing and that his treasurer will face scrutiny over his finances. And Chris Grant, a political consultant who once worked for an indicted former member of Congress, has advised Santos to not resign, encouraging the New York Republican to ride out his myriad legal issues, another GOP source said. ‘Let me be very clear, I’m not leaving, I’m not hiding and I am NOT backing down,’ tweeted Santos on Tuesday, who has been defiant despite calls for his resignation over repeatedly lying about his career, education and identity. ‘I will continue to work for #NY03 and no amount of Twitter trolling will stop me. I’m looking forward to getting what needs to be done, DONE!’”
But even before Santos publicly telegraphs his next moves, top party leaders are vowing to knock Santos off and mount an aggressive effort to ensure he can’t tarnish their New York ticket, with six House Republicans in districts carried by Joe Biden in 2020 already on defense going into next year.
In New York, senior Republicans are beginning to reach out to potential primary challengers to topple Santos if he attempts to hang onto his seat. In Washington, senior Republicans are reassuring members of their party in New York that there’s no way they’ll let him be their nominee. And GOP leaders are privately hoping that the cascading revelations and potential for criminal charges will be enough to convince him to bow out and not run for reelection – even though they privately would like to see him occupy the seat for the rest of this Congress to avoid setting up a special election for a seat that could flip to the Democrats.
Part of the reason for the sense of urgency: Several New York freshmen– who were responsible for giving the GOP a House majority– will be vulnerable in 2024 and want to be talking about anyone other than Santos next year.
“George Santos will not be on any ticket in 2024,” said Rep. Marc Molinaro, a New York GOP freshman, who has said he’d vote to expel Santos if a resolution to kick him out of Congress came to the floor.
“I am confident that George Santos will not be on any ticket come 2024,” added Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, a fellow Republican freshman who represents a neighboring Long Island district. “I am confident that we’ll do everything in our power to make sure we have the right candidate, the honest candidate, the truthful candidate, and the one who was honest about his entire being.”
No matter the outcome, though, Santos has put GOP leaders in a serious bind. If he does resign or is expelled, that would set up a special election in a Long Island swing district and chip away at the House GOP’s razor-thin majority, at least temporarily. But they also don’t want Santos to run for reelection in 2024, remaining a black eye on the party and allowing Democrats to link Republican candidates to Santos.
“For the good of the country and for the Republican Party, he’s got to go as quickly as possible. I don’t think he will go on his own. But there’s no way he would win the Republican primary. If he runs again, he’ll get destroyed,” said former GOP Rep. Peter King, who represented a Long Island district when he was in Congress.
“Now, here’s the problem: the longer he stays in there, the worse this is for Republicans on Long Island,” King added “We have local elections (in New York) coming up. The last thing we want to be doing is running with George Santos over our head.”
D’Esposito said of Santos’ impact on voters: “I think that there are people that are upset, they’re hurt, they feel like they’ve been duped.” He added that Republican officials need “to mend those fences” with voters to help them understand “there are good people that represent New York that they sent to Congress, and we’ll be their voice until we have a new one for the Third” Congressional District, which Santos represents.
…Privately, top Republicans expect the situation to grow more dire for Santos.
A senior Republican member told CNN that they are waiting for Santos’ potential indictment to see if he will resign. If he doesn’t, they will deal with the problem at that time, the member said. The House Ethics Committee could also recommend expulsion or other punitive action against Santos.
In the meantime, Santos has become a punchline in GOP circles. One Republican lawmaker, when asked about a potential ethics probe into Santos, quipped to CNN: “I think he’ll be indicted before we get to him.”
But the underlying predicament is this: Republicans are worried that if Santos resigns, the district will very likely flip given that Biden carried it by eight points.
“We don’t want a special,” the senior GOP member said.
To put it mildly. A special would mean that former Congressman Tom Suozzi, who gave up the seat to run for governor would waltz into the seat and probably flatten Martins— who he beat once before— in the process. Unfortunately one of the most hated Democrats in New York, party chairman Jay Jacobs is also threatening to run. That would mean the Republicans would keep the seat with relative ease. Meanwhile, his constituents were demonstrating outside his Queens office yesterday, demanding he resign or that Congress expel him.
Let’s leave off today on this note, from Roger Sollenberger: during his first run for Congress, Santos lost decisively to Democratic incumbent Tom Suozzi, 208,555 (55.9%) to 161,931 (43.4%). Santos lost in Queens. He lost in Nassau. And he lost in Suffolk. But, a grifter by nature, he immediately declared the election was stolen and started a “Devolder Santos for Congress Recount” fund. Sollenberger wrote that “Between Nov. 4 and Dec. 18, while then-President Donald Trump and his allies were raising boatloads of money on false claims of election fraud, DSCR pulled in more than $265,000 according to Federal Election Commission records. It was a huge windfall. For comparison, Santos’ actual campaign only raised around $358,000 for the entire 2020 election, not counting the $81,250 Santos claimed to have loaned from his ‘personal funds.’ Over the same period, DSCR also reported more than $260,000 in expenses, some of which campaign finance experts flagged as suspicious in discussions with the Daily Beast.”
End Citizens United issued a statement saying that “Santos’ lies and corruption know no bounds. He set up a sham recount fund— for a recount that never happened. Then, he illegally used that money to offset costs for his 2022 campaign. It’s yet another blatant violation of the law, which is why we’re asking the FEC to begin an investigation and also hand all relevant material to the DOJ for their investigation.”