The pressure is mounting for New York Republican Rep. George Santos to resign from the seat he won by approximately 20,000 votes in last November’s election.
The reason is clear. Since winning, Santos has been exposed as a serial prevaricator whose statements about his life, work history and education were so far removed from the facts they should have been easy for a competent opposition researcher to spot.
Instead, they missed it. Santos won in a district – New York’s third – the Cook Partisan Voting Index says is D +2, meaning it’s not a sure bet the GOP will keep it if he goes, as is likely.
State and local party leaders have called for him to step down. “He’s disgraced the House of Representatives and we do not consider him one of our congresspeople,” Nassau County GOP Joseph Cairo said earlier in the week.
New York state GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy, a newly elected member of Congress himself, also called Tuesday for Santos to go. “It’s clear that he cannot be an effective representative,” he said in a release Wednesday, “and it would be in the best interest of the taxpayers to have new leadership.”
Santos, whose largely been quiet during most of this, fired back angrily on social media that he had no intention of leaving Congress. “I was elected to serve the people of #NY03 not the party & politicians, I remain committed to doing that and regret to hear that local officials refuse to work with my office to deliver results to keep our community safe and lower the cost of living. I will NOT resign!” he tweeted.
In the meantime, as long as he remains in Congress, he’s trouble for many of his GOP colleagues, none of whom want to be asked over and over by the national and local political press if they think Santos needs to go.
This is where, for the GOP, it gets tricky. It should be easy for other members of the House Republican Conference to say Santos, who’s now under investigation by state and federal prosecutors and who recently learned an old check fraud case in Brazil that had been brought against him was being reopened there, to say something about his fitness (or lack thereof) to serve in Congress.
It’s not. They didn’t send him to Washington, and they didn’t vote for him but, by rendering judgment on Santos, they open the door to taking questions about others among their colleagues who the national press and the Democrats have declared are also or may be unfit to serve.
It’s a sure bet to happen. Once Speaker Kevin McCarthy opted to toss California Democrats U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., off committees dealing with sensitive national security issues, it guaranteed the Democrats would have to find a way to strike back. Santos gives them that opening.
Having friendly bloggers pepper Republicans in marginal districts with questions about Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene or Matt Gaetz is something the Democrats could easily orchestrate. Remember — for lots of reasons — while things concerning Santos seem cut and dried, there’s no one right answer where a few of his colleagues are concerned.
Any answer has within it the potential to alienate enough voters to diminish any marginal GOP members’ hopes for another term.
Let him stay or make him go, there’s no easy way out of the mess he’s caused. Perhaps there’s a deal to be had and, if there is, McCarthy better make it quick.
The longer he sits in Congress without falling on his sword — which besides being the honorable thing to do is the option available to Santos that doesn’t threaten other Republicans — the more dangerous he is to have around.
He may be a “dead man walking” but even they, as we see on television all the time, can do a lot of damage before they’re dismembered.
A former UPI senior political writer and U.S. News and World Report columnist, Peter Roff is a senior fellow at several public policy organizations including the Trans-Atlantic Leadership Network. Contact him at RoffColumns AT gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter and TruthSocial @TheRoffDraft.
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