Close race to replace Santos heats up ahead of Election Day snowstorm

The battle to replace ousted former Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., is heating up even as a snowstorm threatens to pummel voters in the Northeast, on Election Day, with up to a foot of snow.

Former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi and Republican Mazi Melesa Pilip are coming down the stretch of a campaign with potential national implications, with Republicans looking to hold on to a key suburban New York City district amid a trend of Democratic gains in the suburbs in recent elections.

Polling from both public outlets and internal campaigns has remained close throughout the race, with the latest Newsday/Siena College poll released last week showing Suozzi with a 4-point lead over Pilip, within the poll’s margin of error.

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The poll came the same day as the lone debate between the two candidates, which became heated as both shouted over each other in a back-and-forth battle.

“She has no solutions whatsoever,” Suozzi said of his GOP rival during the debate, according to a report from Politico. “Just there’s a problem, there’s a problem, oh, by the way, it’s a really big problem. That’s not enough. That’s not how you govern.”

Pilip, on the other hand, sought to paint her opponent as a party insider who would toe the line for Democrats.

“You know the difference between me and you?” she said. “You are a talker. I am the person who will deliver.”

Despite gains in suburban support in recent years, Democrats have struggled to loosen the tight GOP grip over this affluent Long Island district, which has seen voters express concerns over growing crime and increased illegal immigration. The immigration issue has taken on even more prominence over the last year as migrants from the southern border have been bussed to New York City and the surrounding area by the thousands.

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While Republicans have typically had an advantage with voters concerned about immigration and border security, Suozzi attacked Pilip’s opposition to a bipartisan Senate border bill that he claimed would “close the border.”

“She says she’s concerned about the border, but she opposes the bipartisan solution that would actually close the border,” Suozzi said during the debate, according to Politico.

The debate jabs come as some voters have already made their way to the polls for early voting, with that data seemingly backing polling data that called for a close race. According to early voting data release by the New York City Board of Elections Thursday, a total of 29,913 voters have already cast their ballots.

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Broken down by party affiliation, 12,767 of those voters were registered Democrats, while 10,434 were registered Republicans. Another 5,636 were unaffiliated with either party, while over 1,000 more were classified as other.

Meanwhile, a winter storm is bearing down on the Northeast and could hit hard right before voters head to the polls on Election Day. According to a report from the New York Times, the storm could bring up to a foot of snow to some areas in the region, with the storm starting Monday night ahead of the election slated for Tuesday.