Dems pour more money into last-minute NY ad blitz before special election

Democrats are dumping another $1.25 million into next week’s bellwether special election to replace George Santos.

The last-minute TV ad blitz race suggests some concern from Democrats about next Tuesday’s contest in New York’s 3rd Congressional District.

House Majority PAC, Democrats’ top outside group focused on House races, is releasing three new ads to boost Democratic former Rep. Tom Suozzi against Republican Mazi Melesa Pilip. And one of their ads even compares her to the disgraced Santos, whose expulsion from the House triggered the special election.

The super PAC’s new ads aim to defend Suozzi from Republican attacks that he is weak on border security and slam Pilip on abortion rights. A third spot accuses Pilip of ethics issues and compares her to Santos. The new buy will run from Tuesday through the election.

The eleventh-hour deluge is notable because Democrats already have a massive financial advantage in the race. House Majority PAC alone has spent $7.2 million. But both parties desperately want a victory in the race.

Democrats are hoping to reverse recent declines on Long Island after losing seats there last cycle to Republicans running on crime-centered narratives. A loss would set an ominous start to the 2024 election year in which Democrats face tough fights for the White House and both chambers of Congress.

For Republicans, the race is a kind of referendum of their recent gains — and the first special election under House Speaker Mike Johnson. The election will test the continued potency of GOP messages on issues such as immigration and crime, and can provide additional immediate padding to Republicans’ razor-thin majority in the House.

Before this latest buy, Democrats had already spent or reserved a collective $10.1 million on advertising, compared to nearly $6.6 million from Republicans, according to data from AdImpact. Suozzi also vastly outraised Pilip by a more than 3 to 1 margin from Oct. 1 through Jan. 24.

But that spending gap doesn’t seem to be completely quelling Democrats’ worries.

One new HMP spot calls Pilip “an ethical nightmare” who will “embarrass us again” and juxtaposes her photo with the disgraced Santos. The voiceover warns that Pilip owes more than $100,000 in unpaid taxes to the IRS. Another says Pilip is “running on a platform to ban abortion” with no exceptions for rape or incest. The third pro-Suozzi spot touts his work to support ICE and notes that he worked with former Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) “to get tough on illegal immigration.”

President Joe Biden won the Long Island- and Queens-based district by more than 8 points. But Santos captured it in 2022 in a red wave that gave the GOP control of all of Long Island.

Republicans are doubling down on an immigration-centered message, using footage in some of their ads that shows Suozzi bragging about kicking ICE out of Nassau County. The migrant crisis has become a major issue in the campaign as a swell of more than 160,000 migrants from the southern border have landed in the New York City area.