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ADELE MALPASS: Why Aren’t Republicans Going All-In On A Winnable House Race?

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Adele Malpass President, Daily Caller News Foundation
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The Feb. 13 special election in New York’s 3rd congressional district matters. Special elections can set the tone for a general election, create momentum for the winning party and provide an opportunity to test messages and ideas on actual voters. They also test voter enthusiasm and a party’s ability to get out the vote in a low-turnout situation. It matters especially for Republicans, as it could bolster their razor-thin majority in Congress.

This is a fair fight to replace George Santos, and both parties have put forward formidable candidates. On the Republican side, Mazi Melesa Pilip is a state representative who in 2021 flipped a purple district from blue to red. She is a black, Jewish mother of seven who was born in Ethiopia, immigrated to Israel, was with the IDF and then legally immigrated to the U.S. She’s a fresh face with an impressive background — but doesn’t have the knowledge on issues as much as her Democratic opponent Tom Suozzi.

While Suozzi has higher name ID as a former Nassau County executive and a three-term congressman, he has baggage. He’s known as “Tax’em Tom,” he badly lost a Democratic bid for governor in 2022 and only won his congressional seat in 2020 after a close recount. (RELATED: KYLE HUPFER: Will The GOP Seize Its Momentum With Minorities?)

NY3 is a classic suburban swing district that is a must-win for both parties in the 2024 general election. President Biden won this district by 8 points and Democrats have a registration advantage. But Republicans have the momentum going into this election, as a massive red wave has moved through Nassau County in the last three elections.

In 2022 this district became one of 18 congressional crossover districts where a Republican got elected to the House in a Biden district. If history is a guide, Republicans tend to have a higher turnout rate in special elections, as older voters are more likely to show up.

The biggest problem for Pilip is money, and the Democrats are playing to win. According to AdImpact, the Democrats have outspent Republicans so far by a 6 to 1 ratio. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee with its House Majority PAC has reserved $6.2 million in advertising compared to the $1.1 million by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The Republican National Committee has committed to sending 10 staffers to the district for a data-driven get-out-the vote effort, but this is not the same as money for television and digital ads. The mudslinging has already begun in this race, and going negative is a must to win. Republicans need to level the money playing field, as they all have cash on hand, or not be surprised by a loss on election night in an easily winnable district.

Offsetting Suozzi’s money advantage are the issues which are mostly going Pilip’s way. Nassau County residents have voted against the policies coming out of Albany and Washington on crime, education and taxes. Pilip is hitting her opponent as “Sanctuary Suozzi” for his policies that encouraged illegal immigrants to move to the district and his public fights to underfund the police. (RELATED: JAMES CARTER And JIM ELLIS: Don’t Buy Into The Media’s Narrative On Congress)

A big problem for Suozzi is Governor Hochul has supposedly asked him to not trash Albany or Democrats during the campaign. This has left Suozzi without the ammunition to say how he would do things differently than Albany and Washington, so he’s fallen back on the Democrats’ playbook of calling Pilip a MAGA Republican who will take away abortion rights.

With a month to go, this special election will test whether Republicans can win over the crucial voting block of suburban voters – without them, they won’t win the White House in 2024. It’s also a test of whether the issues of crime, immigration and a weak economy mean more to the voters than the name-calling of being a MAGA Republican against abortion.

For Pilip, her immediate challenge is to raise more money so she is not outspent 6 to 1.

Adele Malpass is the President of the Daily Caller News Foundation and was Chair of the Manhattan Republican Party.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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