Republicans have a real shot at capturing two once-secure Democratic-held Long Island congressional seats as part of the GOP’s quest to retake control of the House of Representatives this fall, independent election watchers — and even Democrats — said Thursday.
The Republican Party’s chances improved markedly after both Democratic Reps. Tom Suozzi and Kathleen Rice decided not to seek re-election in the third and fourth congressional districts, respectively.
One independent “crystal ball” analysis conducted by the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato lists the race for the open 3rd Congressional District in Nassau County as a “toss-up.”
Democrats have a clear enrollment edge in both districts, but some are moderates who object to the leftward tilt in their party’s governing policies in New York and are disillusioned with President Biden.
The Democratic Party candidates took a drubbing in races for district attorney and Nassau County executive last year as Republicans successfully painted their opponents as soft on crime and voters registered disgust over Democrats’ controversial state law eliminating cash bail and detention for most crimes.
Many residents on Long Island commute to work in New York City and live in neighborhoods that border Queens and they are sensitive to spikes in crime and worsening quality of life conditions in the Big Apple, political analysts say.
“They are clearly going to be competitive races because of national and local issues that hurt Democrats,” said Lawrence Levy, the dean of the national center for suburban studies at Hofstra University.
Even Jay Jacobs, the Nassau County Democratic Party leader and state Democratic Party chairman, expects tough fights defending the two open seats that had been held by Suozzi and Rice.
“The third and fourth congressional district races will be very competitive in the general election,” Jacobs, a moderate who has fought with his party’s progressives on bail reform, said in an interview Thursday.
Republican George Santos, a financier and the son of Brazilian immigrants who is gay, will be the GOP nominee in the 3rd Congressional District. He lost to Suozzi last year.
District 3 includes a sliver portion of northeast Queens and northwest and central Nassau communities including Great Neck and Hicksville.
Retired NYPD detective and Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito is the Republican nominee for the 4th Congressional District that takes in the beach communities of Freeport, Island Park, Atlantic Beach and other communities near the Queens border including Valley Stream, Floral Park, Garden City, Cedarhurst, Garden City, Hempstead, Rockville Center, Malverne and Lynbrook.
Nassau GOP sources rave that D’Esposito is a “first rate” candidate who is popular in his councilman district.
Democrats will face off in a primary to run against D’Esposito. The primary field includes former Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen and Nassau County legislator Carrie Solages.
President Biden easily carried communities that make up both redrawn congressional districts over former Republican President Donald Trump in 2020 but his popularity has plunged amid record inflation and crime woes. Historically, the party who controls the White House loses seats in mid-term elections.