Republicans believe that their pick to replace recently expelled Representative George Santos could be a rising star on the national stage, despite her thin political resume.
Mazi Melesa Pilip, a local legislator who was born in Ethiopia and served in the Israel Defense Forces, was tapped in a secret meeting on Thursday to run as the Republican candidate for New York’s 3rd congressional district. So far, she’s curried the favor of the traditionally white Long Island Republican caucus and the endorsement of another former Long Island representative and 2016 GOP presidential candidate who once claimed there were “too many mosques in this country”—Peter King.
“She is the American success story,” King told The New York Times. “Some people have superstar capacity. She walks into the room, people notice her, they listen to her.”
In many ways, Pilip is an unlikely candidate for the Long Island seat. She is a 44-year-old mother of seven who first ran for office just two years ago. According to the Times, she has almost no experience raising money and has yet to foster relationships with the national party. She also lacks a strong platform, having yet to weigh in on issues that have decided other races, including abortion rights, gun laws, and Donald Trump’s numerous criminal trials.
This all makes Pilip a pretty bold pick, given that Democrats already have a very good chance of retaking the House seat. Santos was one of 18 Republicans representing districts that voted for Joe Biden in 2020.
It remains to be seen if voters in the Queens-Nassau County district have been turned off of the GOP. After all, it’s thanks to the local Republican officials that Santos was pushed through inauguration, even after several bombshell reports revealed that the fabulist congressman had lied about everything from his resume to lineage, resulting in the third expulsion in U.S. history in the post-Civil War period.
She’ll be pitted against the Democrat’s pick, former Representative Tom Suozzi, in a special election scheduled to take place February 13.