Tom Suozzi, a Democrat with ties to Haredi leaders, wins former congressman Santos’s seat

Suozzi defeated Republican Mazi Pilip, an Orthodox Jew, to represent a district that includes parts of Queens and Long Island

Democrat former rep. Tom Suozzi. Photo: Shutterstock

Feb 14, 2024 12:25 PM


Tom Suozzi, a New York Democrat who has ingratiated himself with Haredi leaders, won his election on Tuesday to take over disgraced politician George Santos’s seat in the U.S. Congress.

With 93% of ballots counted as of Wednesday morning, Suozzi leads Republican Mazi Pilip, an Orthodox Jew, by about eight percentage points. Suozzi will represent a district that includes parts of northeastern Queens and the North Shore of Long Island, an area that does not include many Hasidic or Litvish residents, aside from Chabad emissaries. The district is, however, home to a growing community of Bukharian Jews, separate from the community’s main base in Forest Hills, Queens. 

Suozzi, who is staunchly pro-Israel, represented this district in Congress before leaving to run for governor of New York. During that race, he courted Haredi leaders’ support, meeting with Chabad-Lubavitch leaders and attending a Satmar event. He was endorsed in the primary by Chabad rabbi Shea Hecht. Suozzi also received campaign contributions from Leon Goldenberg, a trustee for the Haredi organization Agudath Israel of America, and Rabbi Michael Melnick, who made his contribution using the address for the main headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch community, 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn.

Suozzi explained his views on the state of Haredi education during his gubernatorial bid. In 2022, he told the New York Times editorial board that he believed 99% of Jewish schools offered “very good” education, and for the rest, “you should be calling them out and trying to send a task force in there to try and persuade them to change.” When a member of the board told Suozzi that the state had been unsuccessful in using that strategy, Suozzi said, “I don’t know that it hasn’t worked.”

Tuesday’s special election took place after Santos was expelled from Congress on Dec. 1 after prosecutors accused him of misusing campaign funds.