Another candidate has joined the race for the Long Island House seat currently held by Republican Rep. George Santos, who pleaded not guilty last week to federal charges of wire fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds.
Following the arraignment, Santos said he doesn’t plan to resign and intends to continue running for reelection. But that hasn’t deterred one Republican and four Democrats from officially launching 2024 bids for his seat, in a swing district that flipped from Democratic to Republican last year.
Zak Malamed, co-founder of the Democratic donor network Next 50, announced his candidacy in a Twitter post Monday by making several digs relating to the fabrications told by Santos.
“While @Santos4Congress has deceived our community with his lies, I will always tell the truth about my story and the needs of this district,” Malamed said.
Malamed is a co-founder of Next 50, a Democratic donor network that has raised millions for candidates younger than 50. Also in the running for Santos’ seat are former Democrat state Sen. Anna Kaplan, Josh Lafazan, a former county legislator, law professor Will Murphy and Kellen Curry, a Republican veteran of the war in Afghanistan who worked at JPMorgan. Former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi, who held the seat before Santos, is also reportedly considering a bid.
Federal prosecutors accused the first-term lawmaker in a 13-count indictment of fraudulently obtaining unemployment benefits, using campaign contributions to pay down personal debts and purchase designer clothing, and lying to the House of Representatives about his financial condition. His next court appearance is set for June 30.
Santos has become known for fabricating almost his entire campaign biography. His claims about working for Goldman Sachs, having Jewish ancestry and even running pet charities were largely untrue. Santos has claimed he merely embellished his resume but never did anything unlawful.
“I’m going to fight the witch hunt,” Santos said after his arraignment last week. “I’m going to take care of clearing my name.”
Santos’ congressional campaign lost money during the first quarter of 2023 after it reported having to issue refunds in excess of the contributions it received.
Several lawmakers and top New York elected officials have called on Santos to resign. Gov. Kathy Hochul in February called him a “huge distraction” and said that she wanted him gone.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy hasn’t called for his resignation but said Wednesday that he wouldn’t support Santos’ reelection bid. President Joe Biden declined to comment on if Santos should resign and said “that’s for Congress to decide.”
Six out of 10 House Republicans from New York have called on Santos to resign, including all four first-term Republican congressmen.
“He should have resigned in January. He should resign now,” Rep. Marc Molinaro told POLITICO last week.
“As a retired NYPD Detective, I am confident the justice system will fully reveal Congressman Santos’ long history of deceit, and I once again call on this serial fraudster to resign from office,” Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.) said in a Twitter post.
A February Siena Poll found that 66 percent of New York voters across the state believe Santos should resign from Congress.
“I believe that everyone can agree that George Santos is a disgrace and he should resign. But he has said that he’s not going to,” Kaplan told CNN This Morning on Monday. “And Congress should expel him, but we have also seen Kevin McCarthy refuse to do the right thing. I’m running because I want to make sure we give the voters a choice at the ballot. And to unseat George Santos.”