Republicans are quietly looking for a replacement for George Santos

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) sits alone during Kevin McCarthy's battle to become House Speaker
Rep. George Santos (R-NY) sits alone during Kevin McCarthy's battle to become House Speaker Photo: Screenshot

Even though out Rep. George Santos (R-NY) just got sworn in as a member of Congress this past Saturday despite lying about his entire past to get into office, party leaders are already searching for someone to replace him, either in a special election or in 2024.

“The wheels are already spinning,” one unnamed GOP official told the Washington Times. “People are getting ready to start primaries.”

GOP leaders in New York are also getting ready for a possible special election if Santos ends his term in Congress early. Names being considered include New York Assemblyman Mike Durso (R), Nassau County Comptroller Elaine Phillips, and former New York Assemblyman Mike LiPetri (R), according to the Times.

After being elected to represent New York’s Third Congressional District and becoming the first out gay Republican elected to Congress, Santos’ life story came crumbling down as several newspapers reported he never went to the colleges he said he attended, never worked for the major banks he said he worked for, and that he had been lying about his family history as well. He has admitted to many of these lies, calling them “a little bit of fluff” on his resume.

He is also being investigated by authorities in Brazil for writing bad checks, something he reportedly confessed to in 2010.

The amount of lying has led many to speculate that his political career may be short. If he doesn’t resign and if he isn’t forced to leave Congress, he could meet the same fate as the scandal-ridden former Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) did and lose in a primary challenge after his first term in Congress.

The Times says that unnamed “GOP officials in Washington who oversee House races” are working to find candidates to replace Santos should a special election be triggered by Santos resigning or being forced out of office. In such a special election, there wouldn’t be a primary. Committee members from each party would decide who their party’s candidate is.

Santos’s district – New York’s Third Congressional District – went for President Joe Biden in 2020, so having a strong candidate would be necessary for Republicans to keep the seat.

But Santos doesn’t appear ready to resign, taking being exposed as a fraud in stride and befriending his colleagues during his first week in the House. And while the House could vote to expel him, that rarely happens and would require Republican support, something unlikely to happen since Santos’s district could go to a Democrat.

While Republican leaders weren’t willing to go on the record on the matter, Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks (R-NY) said that Democratic leaders are ready to find a candidate for a special election should Santos resign or be forced out.

“I’ve talked to Jay Jacobs who is the Democratic leader in Nassau County, and I will talk to our respective district leaders and they’ll decide the best candidate,” he said.

Santos is also under investigation by the Nassau County district attorney, the state of New York, and federal prosecutors in addition to Brazilian authorities.

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