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A longtime NY Democrat flipped a Republican seat. The nation took notice.

"Tom Suozzi successfully used Democrats’ weaknesses, the border crisis and Joe Biden’s age, to his advantage to win in an 8-point spread.


NEW YORK — Embrace calls for stronger border security. Acknowledge the advanced age of President Joe Biden. Pledge to support law enforcement and Israel.


Democrat Tom Suozzi hit on all these points during his campaign for a bellwether House district on Long Island — successfully turning his party’s chief vulnerabilities into assets.


And the strategy worked. Suozzi’s 8-point victory Tuesday against Republican candidate Mazi Pilip came as Democrats nationwide are grappling with the GOP’s leveraging of the southern border crisis to its advantage, Biden’s low approval ratings and concerns about his age.


But Suozzi managed to neutralize these political weaknesses that his Democratic brethren will likely confront as they run for House seats in swing districts throughout the country in November.


Democrat Tom Suozzi rode to victory Tuesday by latching on to vulnerabilities for his own party. | Mary Altaffer/AP


Instead of dodging the issue of border security, Suozzi assailed House Republicans for snubbing a bipartisan deal in the Senate, while embracing suburban voters’ concerns over the flow of migrants in the country. And Suozzi signaled to voters he shares their concerns with Biden’s age during a recent FOX 5 New York interview, though he is expected to endorse him if he’s the party’s nominee.


Democrats also portrayed Pilip as an opponent of abortion rights, long a key issue for the party that has been effectively deployed in swing seats across the country, yet it did not become a central theme. It’s an issue that consistently resonates with the wealthy and college-educated suburbanites who have become the prime swing voters in recent presidential races; but it plays an even bigger role in states where abortion protections are on the line, like Wisconsin.


In the first House race of the pivotal election year — a special election to replace ousted Republican George Santos — Democrats locally gave their national leaders reason for relief as they vie to retake control over Congress and retain the White House in November. Some of Suozzi’s success can be replicated in similar swing districts: Tying Republicans to national dysfunction, acknowledging voter concerns over public safety and immigration and spending big on the airwaves. And some were unique to this race: Inclement weather that suppressed turnout appeared to work in Suozzi’s favor and Santos’ scandal-scarred exit seemed to leave voters wary of a political neophyte in Pilip.


For the full February 14, 2024 Politico article by Nick Reisman, click here.

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