Hotly Contested Race To Replace George Santos Could Affect Fate of Ukraine Aid in House

As a standalone foreign aid package moves through Congress, the Democratic candidate, Congressman Tom Suozzi, backs additional aid to Ukraine while GOP contender Mazi Pilip is keeping mum.

Dueling congressional candidates: Mazi Pilip and Tom Suozzi. AP

As debate over aid to Ukraine moves through Congress, the winner in the special election to replace Congressman George Santos in New York’s Third District could play a decisive role on Capitol Hill. The Democratic candidate, Congressman Tom Suozzi, says he would vote for more Ukraine aid while his Republican opponent, Mazi Pilip, is keeping mum on whether she supports it.

On Thursday, the Senate agreed to open debate on a standalone foreign aid package that would provide assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and the Republic of China on Taiwan. The level of support among senators raises the prospect that an aid bill could pass the upper chamber, putting a spotlight on whether such a bill could pass, or even be brought up for a vote, in the GOP-controlled House. 

A day earlier the Senate had rejected a bipartisan measure that would have coupled overseas aid with border security reforms.

The special election is scheduled for Tuesday, meaning that the foreign aid package could well be before the House around the time that the district chooses a new representative.

Given the small Republican House majority and the fact that absences combined with a handful of dissenting Republicans have left the House GOP unable to pass resolutions as recently as this week, the fate of any foreign aid legislation could hinge on the outcome of the race in New York’s Third. 

As it stands, the once and potentially future congressman from the district, Mr. Suozzi, has expressed strong support for additional aid to Ukraine.

According to his campaign site, Mr. Suozzi “knows that now is not the time for the United States to turn our backs on Ukraine,” adding that if he returns to Congress, “he will continue to support Ukraine’s military and its accession to NATO.”

“Such a betrayal would embolden Putin to invade even more sovereign territory, and would likely give China more confidence to launch an attack on Taiwan,” Mr. Suozzi’s position reads, referring to the Russian president.

Ms. Pilip, by contrast, has not stated a position on the issue. Asked by the Sun on Friday whether she would support additional aid to Ukraine to bolster its defense against the Russian invasion, her campaign did not respond.

Although Ms. Pilip has not expressed a view on additional aid to Ukraine specifically, she did oppose the Senate’s now apparently defunct bipartisan border and foreign aid deal.

Mr. Suozzi has hammered Ms. Pilip for her refusal to commit to supporting Ukraine aid as well as for her opposition to the combined border and foreign aid deal.

“What’s the result of this extremism? Number one, it’s endangering Israel. Number two, it’s keeping the border open,” Mr. Suozzi said at a press conference earlier this week. “And number three, it’s empowering Putin. Those are all awful results.”

So far, polling indicates that Mr. Suozzi enjoys a narrow advantage in the race against Ms. Pilip. An Emerson College poll released Thursday found that Mr. Suozzi leads Ms. Pilip 52 percent to 48 percent, outside the survey’s 3.5-point margin of error.

Previous polling from Siena College and Emerson College have also found that Mr. Suozzi enjoys about a four-point advantage.

“Which candidate comes out on top next week will depend on turnout,” pollster Spencer Kimball said in a memo. “Early voting favors Suozzi 59 percent to 41 percent, while Election Day voters lean towards Pilip 51 percent to 49 percent.”

The Emerson College survey from Thursday also asked respondents who they trusted more on the issue of the war between Russia and Ukraine. They found Mr. Suozzi had a slight advantage, at 51 percent to 49 percent.

A survey of voters in New York’s Third District from January, also conducted by Emerson College, found that a majority of voters, 51 percent, support additional aid to Ukraine. Another 30 percent of respondents from New York’s Third oppose sending more aid to Ukraine, the Emerson poll found, and 20 percent were neutral on the subject.

While most supporters of Mr. Suozzi, 73 percent, supported sending aid to Ukraine, Emerson’s survey determined just 45 percent of supporters of Ms. Pilip supported sending aid to Ukraine.

The New York Sun

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