Santos Announces Defection, Says GOP Lies to Its Base

Booted NY congressman is dumping his party, says he'll run as independent in new run for Congress
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2024 10:03 AM CST
Updated Mar 23, 2024 7:00 AM CDT
George Santos Is Running for Congress Again
Former Rep. George Santos wears a Laken Riley button before President Biden delivers the State of the Union address.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
UPDATE Mar 23, 2024 7:00 AM CDT

Booted ex-Rep. George Santos will stop petitioning in New York's 1st Congressional District in his latest run for Congress—but he's not dropping out of the race, simply switching party affiliation, reports the AP. "The Republican Party continues to lie and swindle its voter base," he wrote on X on Friday afternoon. "I in good conscience cannot affiliate myself with a party that stands for nothing and falls for everything." He noted he'd stop his current campaign on Long Island—where he was set to primary Rep. Nick LaLota—as a Republican and run as an independent instead. The New York Times says "the feeling is mutual" from the GOP, and that neither LaLota nor Suffolk County GOP chief Jesse Garcia seems concerned by Santos' announcement. "Santos can watch the November election results from his prison cell," LaLota said in a statement, referring to the federal fraud charges against Santos.

Mar 8, 2024 10:03 AM CST

Strong name recognition and experience serving in Congress may not be big pluses for a new entrant in the Republican primary in New York's 1st Congressional District. After attending the State of the Union address Thursday night, George Santos announced that he is challenging GOP Rep. Nick LaLota in another run for Congress, CNN reports. In December, Santos was expelled from the House after the release of a scathing House Ethics report. A Democrat won the special election for his 3rd District seat. The primary is on June 25—months before Santos is due to stand trial on 23 federal charges, including campaign finance fraud, NBC News reports.

"After a lot of prayer and conversation with my friends and family, I have made a very important decision that will shake things up," Santos said in a post on X. "New York hasn't had a real conservative represent them since I left office arbitrarily, thanks to RINO, empty suits" like LaLota. The Washington Post reports that Santos filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday for a run in the 1st District. The Post describes the Long Island district as "farther east and more Republican-leaning" than Santos' previous district. Three reactions:

  • LaLota: "To raise the standard in Congress, and to hold a pathological liar who stole an election accountable, I led the charge to expel George Santos," LaLota said in a post on X. "If finishing the job requires beating him in a primary, count me in."
  • John Avlon, a former CNN host seeking the Democratic nomination in the district: "Looks like the circus just came to NY-01. George Santos filed to primary Nick LaLota," Avlon said in a post on X. "Whatever the result - serial liar or Trump flunky - my response is the same: Bring It On."
  • House Majority Leader Steve Scalise: "I didn't know he was doing that," the Republican told NBC.
(More George Santos stories.)

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