Tom Suozzi campaigning in Westbury
Once and future Congressman Tom Suozzi rallies with supporters in Westbury ahead of the special election to pick a successor to George Santos (Photo: Terry Ballard, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

The vot­ers of New York and Penn­syl­va­nia deliv­ered Democ­rats two pre-Valen­tine’s Day wins on Tues­day, with both elec­tions hav­ing nation­al consequences.

The vic­to­ries were built with a swing of sub­ur­ban votes, in Long Island’s Nas­sau Coun­ty and in the Philadel­phia sub­urb of Bucks County.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive-elect Tom Suozzi flipped the con­gres­sion­al seat vacat­ed when the House vot­ed to expel indict­ed Repub­li­can George Santos.

Suozzi won by a sig­nif­i­cant mar­gin, say­ing on Elec­tion Night: “This race was fought amidst a close­ly divid­ed elec­torate, much like the whole country.”

Suozzi con­front­ed Repub­li­cans with their flip-flop on bor­der secu­ri­ty, in which Don­ald Trump ordered the House Repub­li­cans to reject a bipar­ti­san Sen­ate-craft­ed com­pro­mise on immi­gra­tion policy.

“It’s time to find com­mon ground and start deliv­er­ing for the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” he said, speak­ing to the dys­func­tion of the “people’s house.”

His win leaves the House line­up at 219 Repub­li­cans and 213 Democ­rats: House Speak­er Mike John­son can lose only two votes when the yeas and nays are called on the House floor. Giv­en the bit­ter infight­ing in the Repub­li­can cau­cus, the Suozzi win boosts chances that Democ­rats will retake House con­trol in November.

In a spe­cial elec­tion in Penn­syl­va­nia, the vic­to­ry of Jim Prokopi­ak secures Democ­rats’ 102–100 edge in the low­er house of the state Leg­is­la­ture. A major bat­tle for con­trol of the Penn­syl­va­nia Sen­ate is shap­ing up this fall. A long­time Repub­li­can ger­ry­man­der in the Key­stone State has only recent­ly been broken.

The impli­ca­tions of Suozzi’s win can be felt in both Washingtons.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Suzan Del­Bene chairs the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, which invest­ed an esti­mat­ed $10 mil­lion in the race.

She grace­ful­ly gave trib­ute to the can­di­date, say­ing in a state­ment: “Tom Suozzi ran a for­mi­da­ble cam­paign that pri­or­i­tized issues that mat­ter most to fam­i­lies across Queens and Nas­sau Coun­ty, pro­tect­ing repro­duc­tive free­dom, bipar­ti­san solu­tions to pro­tect bor­der secu­ri­ty and low­er­ing costs. In Tom, vot­ers will once again have a rep­re­sen­ta­tive they can trust.”

As is his cus­tom, Trump blamed some­body else for his party’s lat­est loss. He described Repub­li­can nom­i­nee Mazi Fil­ip as a “very fool­ish woman” while declar­ing on social media: “MAGA, which is most of the Repub­li­can Par­ty, stayed home – and it always will, unless it is treat­ed with the respect that it deserves.” (Mean­while, ultra MAGA House Speak­er John­son of Louisiana blamed Moth­er Nature for dump­ing snow on Long Island.)

Wash­ing­ton law­mak­ers will be big win­ners if Democ­rats recap­ture con­trol of the House this fall. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Adam Smith will again chair the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee. Smith teamed with mil­i­tary brass in 2020 to thwart the Trump administration’s efforts to politi­cize the Pentagon.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Rick Larsen, a twen­ty-year House vet­er­an, is in line to chair the House Trans­porta­tion Com­mit­tee, a post pre­vi­ous­ly held by Peter DeFazio.

And, as DCCC chair, Del­Bene is part of the Democ­rats’ House lead­er­ship. She and Rep. Mar­i­lyn Strick­land, D‑Wash., are also mem­ber­ships of the lead­er­ship team for the lead­er­ship of the cen­ter-left New Demo­c­rat Coalition.

Elec­tions have con­se­quences. With Democ­rats in the major­i­ty, Del­Bene can push for her long­time goal of extend­ing the child tax credit.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kim Schri­er, a pedi­a­tri­cian, can press to put a cap on insulin costs for all dia­betes patients, not just senior citizens.

A Demo­c­rat-run House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives would also be far more like­ly to pass the Wild Olympics bill and pro­tect an addi­tion­al 126,000 acres of wilder­ness in the Ever­green State — a cher­ished goal of retir­ing Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Derek Kilmer’s.

As well, it helps to have a good vil­lain. Julie Chavez, man­ag­er of the Biden-Har­ris reelec­tion cam­paign, said of the Tues­day wins: “When Repub­li­cans run on Trump’s extreme agen­da – even in a Repub­li­can-held seat – the vot­ers reject them. Don­ald Trump con­tin­ues to be a huge weight against Repub­li­can candidates.”

About the author

Joel Connelly is a Northwest Progressive Institute contributor who has reported on multiple presidential campaigns and from many national political conventions. During his career at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he interviewed Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush. He has covered Canada from Trudeau to Trudeau, written about the fiscal meltdown of the nuclear energy obsessed WPPSS consortium (pronounced "Whoops") and public lands battles dating back to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

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