Next Tuesday’s special election to replace ousted New York Rep. George Santos will have an immediate impact on the House of Representatives, either adding to or reducing the GOP’s slim majority.
It may also offer some clues about the November election.
The deadlocked vote to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, which amounted to a major blow for House Republicans, only intensified the spotlight on the special election in Queens and Nassau counties.
If the Republican nominee Mazi Pilip wins, the House GOP likely would be able to impeach Mayorkas.
If Democrat Tom Suozzi is victorious, impeachment would become harder - at least for the time being.
“Let's see what happens next week. We may have the one vote that we need, right?” Staten Island Rep. Nicole Malliotakis told reporters Wednesday.
There is a chance that Republicans could try again to impeach Mayorkas before the winner of the 3rd congressional special election is sworn in, provided Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise - a backer of impeachment - is able to return. He is undergoing treatment for cancer.
The election also has implications for House Republicans beyond the impeachment vote. Their current majority - just four seats - has greatly complicated their ability to get things done.
A defeat would make things even harder for the GOP by making the chamber's margin tighter. A victory would give them a little additional breathing room.
Looking ahead to November
Long term, the results on Long Island could offer clues ahead of the November election.
Dave Wasserman, the senior editor and election analyst for The Cook Political Report, said that a Pilip win would raise a red flag that the issues that plagued New York Democrats in the 2022 election have not gone away.
While the Republican “red wave” failed to materialize nationally during the 2022 midterms, the party had a good night in New York, flipping several congressional key seats across the state.
“If Democrats can't flip a district that voted for Biden by eight points, how can they make the case that they're going to take back the majority in November?” Wasserman said, referring to the 2020 results in what is now New York's 3rd Congressional District.
Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, a Long Island Republican, said a Pilip win should send a message to Democrats: “Perhaps their focus of trying to flip the seats in New York, perhaps they shouldn't move their focus elsewhere. Because Long Island has been strong.”
Meanwhile, a Suozzi victory, Wasserman said, would be a “sign that Democrats down ballot are capable of running ahead of Joe Biden's approval rating. Particularly if they are willing to take on their own party on immigration and crime.”
When asked about the special election, Brooklyn Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who is poised to be speaker if Democrats flip the chamber in November, was coy.
“Let's see what happens in the aftermath of the election as to what it all means,” he said.