Tom Suozzi
Democrat Tom Suozzi has been elected to represent NY-03 in the House of Representatives, replacing disgraced politician George Santos. AFP

NEW YORK CITY - Democrat Tom Suozzi won a special election in the third district of New York on Tuesday. With around 54% of the votes, Suozzi will represent NY-03 in the House of Representatives —spans from Nassau County in Long Island to parts of Queens— flipping a seat in Congress and making Republicans' narrow majority in the House of Representatives even slimmer.

Suozzi defeated Republican Nassau County legislator Mazi Pilip. The politician and attorney will now take over the seat previously held by George Santos, who in a historical event was expelled from the House in December over several ethics violations, including lying on his resume and biography.

"Despite all the lies about Tom Suozzi and the Squad, about Tom Suozzi being the godfather of the migrant crisis, about 'Sanctuary Suozzi,' despite dirty tricks, despite the vaunted Nassau County Republican machine: We won," Suozzi said at his victory party.

Republicans were hoping concerns over immigration enforcement would put them over the top and help them win by a landslide. That did not happen.

Special elections are usually a low-turnout event and they are not necessarily an indication about what will happen in the future and at a broader scale. Nonetheless, Suozzi's election in a majorly Republican suburb in New York leaves experts wondering, what's next?

Here are five key takeaways from last night's election:

Getting national legislation passed will now be even more difficult

Three seats. That's Republicans' current majority in the House. With an already polarized chamber, Suozzi's seat flip takes away more of Republicans' power and majority, a major step for Democrats in their quest to retake the lead.

This difference can be even more significant, as it may prevent Speak Johnson's election-year ambitions, including the potential impeachment of President Biden. It will also affect their bargaining leverage in negotiations to try to avert a government shutdown in March.

Despite a clear slim majority, Johnson downplayed the election in New York, urging Republicans during a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning not to panic over the results. He argues that Democrats spent $15 million in order to beat the GOP's low name candidate in a Joe Biden district by less than 8 points.

Immigration is a big issue, but is it a deal breaker?

Republicans alleged throughout the campaign that Suozzi was responsible for the migrant crisis in New York City, along with President Biden. They spent around $8 million on campaign ads in the race, a great deal of which dealt with the migrant crisis.

Given that the special election was taking place in a New York suburb, the GOP was expecting this rhetoric to be a hit. However, the line didn't ultimately quite stick with voters, who have long recognized Suozzi as a moderate or centrist.

Abortion rights is still something Democrats are putting their faith

In addition to immigration, abortion rights was another one of Democrats' key messages. Throughout the campaign, Democrats used Pilip saying she is "pro life" and accused her of "running on a platform to ban abortion. No exceptions of rape or incest."

Mazi Pilip
Mazi Pilip AFP

While it is true that one shouldn't read too much into special elections, Suozzi's victory is just the latest in a saga of Democrat triumphs since the Dobbs ruling that overturned the guaranteed right to an abortion nearly two years ago.

Experience still matters, and so does the candidate

Suozzi is a career politician who has deep ties to the district that he ran in. He has spent nearly three decades in public office. He cast himself as a tested lawmaker ready to step in and work to access the aisle on immigration and repealing the cap in the state and local tax deduction, one of the suburban district's top priorities.

On the other hand, Pilip, a Black immigrant and Israeli military veteran, offered voters a fresh face. But her inexperience showed, floundering through the only debate, giving tangled answers on abortions and gun safety, and telling voters they would just have to trust her ability to deliver on other issues.

Redemption for New York Democrats

Suozzi's success prices Biden and national Democrats with a narrative reshuffle, as the party struggles with voters' growing anxieties about the upcoming presidential election. His win is also a major coup for the party and its leaders, who came under heavy criticism from within over its candidates' underwhelming performances in the 2022 midterms.

While voters' overwhelmingly preferred Biden in the 2020 election, Democrats on Long Island had been losing support there ever since— until Tuesday's special election.

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