Polls are closing in New York’s election for the U.S. House seat vacated by Republican Santos By Reuters

©Reuters. Republican congressional candidate for New York’s 3rd district, Mazi Melesa Pilip, arrives for early voting at a polling place in Massapequa, New York, U.S., February 9, 2024. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

By Makini Brice and Joseph Axe

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Polls closed on New York’s special election on Tuesday evening, in which Democrats aimed to reduce the slim Republican majority in the House of Representatives to fill the vacancy created by the ouster of Republican George Santos.

Early results showed that Tom Suozzi, a former Democratic congressman, county executive and mayor, was ahead of Mazi Melesa Pilip, a Republican lawmaker of Ethiopian origin who had served in the Israeli army, by a two-to-one margin with about 6 % of votes. estimated vote counted, according to Edison Research. The borough includes a small corner of New York City and some of its eastern suburbs.

Republicans hold a narrow majority in the House, 219-212, that has proven difficult to manage, as evidenced by the House’s failure last week to pass a measure to impeach President Joe Biden’s top border official, Alejandro Mayorkas, who fell one vote short when some Republicans voted. NO. The House passed the measure Tuesday, after the No. 1 Republican. 2 Steve Scalise returned from cancer treatment to cast a deciding vote.

Santos was expelled from the House in a historic vote after a nearly 11-month term, when his fellow lawmakers expelled him on charges of criminal corruption and improperly spending campaign money.

Voter turnout, already expected to be weak for February’s special election, was further depressed by a winter storm that blanketed New York Tuesday morning with several inches of heavy snow, prompting both campaigns to offer free rides to polling places in afternoon.

The district, which supported Biden in 2020 before swinging to Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections, has served as a testing ground for both parties’ messaging ahead of the fall elections, when the presidency and control of both chambers of Congress will be at the right level. pole.

“This race could be a bellwether for suburban districts across the country deciding who will control the gavels of Congress,” said Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University.

A central issue in the election has been immigration, as it has been in other parts of the country ahead of the expected rematch between Biden and former President Donald Trump in November.

Pilip has repeatedly grilled Suozzi and the Democratic Party on the issue, accusing them of failing to control crossings on the southern border with Mexico. Pilip was supported by a union for Border Patrol officers.

“I have stopped migrants from being sent to Nassau and I will secure the border when I get to Congress,” Pilip wrote in a Facebook (NASDAQ:) post, referring to Nassau County in New York state.

Suozzi, who represented the congressional district for six years before resigning and running unsuccessfully for governor, called Pilip’s attacks on him misguided and said she had been short on details about how she would address the safety of the borders.

He touted his bipartisan compromise on immigration and criticized Republicans for rejecting a border security deal negotiated in the Senate, which collapsed after Trump urged Republicans to reject it.

“Ms. Pilip emphasizes that there is a problem, there is a problem, there is a problem. She has no solutions,” Suozzi said in the only election debate.

She also attacked Pilip on abortion, an issue that Democrats have brought to the forefront since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a nationwide right in 2022. Pilip said she personally opposes abortion but does not support a federal ban .

None of the candidates’ campaigns responded to requests for comment.

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