Santos expulsion spells a much more thorough vetting process for House seat replacement

WABC logo
Monday, December 4, 2023
Thorough vetting process expected for Santos New York seat replacement
Sonia Rincon has more following George Santo's expulsion from Congress.

WESTBURY, Nassau County (WABC) -- The vetting process will look a lot different for candidates looking to fill the vacant seat after George Santos' expulsion from the House.

Party leaders from Queens and Nassau are choosing the candidates that will appear on that February or March ballot.

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi has already expressed interest in retaking the New York congressional seat and there are a few other democrats being considered, but Republicans have more than 30 people interested in the job now, even some who have come forward since Santos' expulsion from congress on Friday.

"We're going through everyone who's expressed interest," said Nassau Co. Republican Party Chair Joseph G. Cairo, Jr. "We have no clear-cut choice."

And the vetting process has changed since George Santos was nominated.

"To begin with, we'll have an outside firm do a complete background check on the potential two or three finalists, and make sure we have all the information necessary," said Cairo, Jr. "That there's nothing that goes unturned. If someone says they graduated from a college, we took their word for it. Today I guess we ask to see their diploma or check with the university."

Nassau GOP chairman Joe Cairo called Santos a stain on congress, and his expulsion, necessary, and now says the best candidate to replace him is someone who holds republican values.

Cairo's democratic counterpart, NYS and Nassau Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs told Eyewitness News Friday that whoever wins the special election has a good chance of winning again in November and democrats want to flip the district back.

"I think that every seat that we win gets us one more step closer to a democratic congressional majority and Hakeem Jeffries being our speaker," said Jacobs. "Now that's not all that this is about, it's about representing the people of the third congressional district here."

At the local district offices, Santos' desk and chair may be empty, but New York 03 District Director Mark Woolley says constituents still have a staff working for them.

"When you've got people here that are doing this type of casework for them, they're being represented," said Woolley.

The staff now answers to the house clerk, and legislation isn't something that can work on or vote on, but they're keeping many services during the transition.

"Either for veterans or seniors, regarding healthcare, regarding immigration, passports, IRS, Social Security, that continues on right through," said Woolley.

As far as what Santos has been doing since his expulsion, the ex-congressman is recording personalized greetings on Cameo for $200 a pop and tweeting angrily since Friday about the republicans who voted to expel him, accusing them of ethics violations.

One of his targets, Hudson Valley congressman Rep. Mike Lawler laughed it off Monday.

"I stand by my conduct, my behavior," said Rep. Lawler. "There's a reason I'm still in Congress and he's not."

As for who the candidates are for the special election, Democrats may have theirs as early as Tuesday. Republicans are hoping theirs will be named by early next week.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* Follow us on YouTube

* More local news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.