New York sets election to fill US House seat vacated by ousted George Santos

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Tuesday called a special election for Feb. 13 to fill the U.S. House of Representatives seat previously held by ousted Republican George Santos.

The lawmaker’s ouster whittled away Republicans’ narrow margin in the House to 221-213 and the race for the seat representing a small corner of New York City and some of its Long Island suburbs is expected to be competitive.

Tom Suozzi, a Democrat who had represented the district before Santos and who had resigned to mount an ultimately unsuccessful run for governor, is among the 20 candidates who are vying for the seat.

Local party leaders are expected to choose the candidates in lieu of nominating contests after the special election date is set.

Other Democrats vying for the seat include a former state senator, a chief executive at a surgery center and a county legislator.

A retired police detective, a former bank vice president and a personal-injury lawyer are among the people seeking the Republican nomination.

Santos has said he does not plan to try to run for the seat again.

Santos became the sixth person in history to be expelled from the House of Representatives in a bipartisan 311-114 vote on Dec. 1.

Since shortly after his November 2022 election, Santos had been embroiled in controversy for fabricating significant portions of his biography on the campaign trail. His troubles deepened when federal prosecutors charged him with laundering campaign funds and defrauding donors.

Santos has pleaded not guilty to those charges, with his trial scheduled to start on Sept. 9, 2024.

A scathing Ethics Committee report issued on Nov. 16 said Santos had used campaign funds for personal purpose and engaged in fraudulent conduct. As part of its probe, the congressional investigators referred additional allegations of uncharged and unlawful conduct to the Justice Department.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Scott Malone)