Former NY congressman launches campaign as Santos' legal woes mount

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 16: Congressman Tom Suozzi speaks at a Conversation with U.S. Lawmakers about Religious Persecution hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Congressional Caucus and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission at the U.S. Capitol on July 16, 2

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi on Tuesday launched a campaign to retake the New York congressional seat held by Rep. George Santos as the besieged Republican congressman faces a sprawling list of criminal charges.

Suozzi had represented the 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Long Island and northeast Queens, before an unsuccessful campaign for governor last year.

The Democrat announced the congressional bid in a statement on X, formally known as Twitter, and said a formal campaign kickoff will come after local elections next month.

"Today I’m filing a committee to run for Congress in November 2024," he said. "The madness in Washington, D.C., and the absurdity of George Santos remaining in the United States Congress is obvious to everyone."

A handful of candidates have emerged to vie for the seat in what is expected to be part of a group of competitive congressional races in New York that could determine party control of the House. Santos' seat is seen as a key target for New York Democrats who are trying to reverse a series of unexpected losses in last year's congressional elections.

Santos has so far resisted calls to resign following a federal indictment filed in May alleging he duped donors, embezzled money from his campaign, lied in financial disclosures submitted to Congress about being a millionaire and received unemployment funds when he wasn’t eligible. He has pleaded not guilty.

Federal prosecutors filed a superseding indictment against Santos on Tuesday, alleging he also stole the identities of his political donors and used their credit cards to make tens of thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges.

Santos did not immediately return a text and phone message seeking comment on Tuesday. He has previously denied defrauding anyone.

Last week, Santos' ex-treasurer pleaded guilty to a fraud conspiracy charge and implicated Santos in a scheme to embellish his campaign finance reports with a fake loan and fake donors.

After his election, news outlets revealed that Santos had fabricated large parts of his background, including making up stories about where he went to college and where he worked, telling people he was a Wall Street dealmaker with a real estate portfolio when he was actually struggling financially and had faced eviction from multiple apartments. Santos also lied about his heritage, saying he was Jewish when he wasn’t.

He has acknowledged embellishing his resume but says people are overreacting.

Suozzi, an accountant and lawyer, was elected to Congress in 2016 and survived a tough reelection in 2020. He previously served as mayor of Glen Cove from 1994 to 2001, and as Nassau County’s elected executive from 2002 to 2009.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.