Congressman George Santos (R-N.Y.), who is facing multiple criminal fraud charges, plans to run for re-election in 2024 regardless of what happens to him in his current term.
Despite the criminal charges, Mr. Santos has insisted his political career isn’t over. On Friday, CNN journalist Manu Raju shared an excerpt of a recent interview in which Mr. Santos said he is “absolutely” going to run again in 2024.
Shortly after he won his congressional race last year, reports began to emerge alleging Mr. Santos fabricated numerous aspects of his biography. In May, federal prosecutors announced 13 criminal charges against Mr. Santos for wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, and making materially false statements. Last month, federal prosecutors filed a superseding indictment bringing an additional 10 charges against Mr. Santos for two counts of wire fraud, two counts of making materially false statements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), two counts of falsification of FEC records submissions, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of access device fraud.
Amid these various biographical questions and allegations of fraud, Mr. Santos has fended off calls for his resignation. Lawmakers even brought a resolution to expel Mr. Santos from Congress, but the House rejected the measure by a vote of 179–213 on Wednesday.
“Can you win a primary given all these things that are lined up against you?” Mr. Raju asked the Republican lawmaker during the interview segment.
“Yes,” Mr. Santos replied.
“And the general election, this is a Biden-leaning district and you have all these issues against you,” Mr. Raju continued.
“Could I have won the general election last time? Nobody said I could but I survived,” Mr. Santos replied.
Mr. Raju then insisted his 2022 election victory was “a different situation.”
“I understand but elections are tricky and there’s no predetermined outcome,” Mr. Santos replied.
Prior to his 2022 election victory, Mr. Santos’ 3rd congressional seat was held by Democrats since 2012. Portions of New York’s current 3rd congressional district indeed favored President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, though redistricting has since made the seat more of a toss-up, according to a FiveThirtyEight election analysis. Democrats and Republicans in New York continue to battle in court over the state’s congressional map.
Mr. Santos won his seat last year with 53.7 percent of the vote, beating Democratic candidate Robert Zimmerman who had 46.2 percent of the vote.
Santos Says He Didn’t Win 2022 Race on His Biography
Among the various things aspects of his biography that Mr. Santos is alleged to have fabricated are that he was a star volleyball player for Baruch College and that he obtained a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics from that college. In a December 2022 interview with the New York Post, Mr. Santos did admit he “embellished” his resume, including graduating from college.
Despite some admitted inaccuracies in his biography, Mr. Santos told CNN that those inaccuracies were not instrumental in his 2022 election victory.
“Nobody elected me because I played volleyball or not. Nobody elected me because I graduated college or not,” Mr. Santos said. “People elected me because I said I’d come here to fight the swamp. I’d come here to lower inflation, create more jobs, make life more affordable, and the commitment to America. That’s why people voted for anybody. To say that they voted based on anybody’s biography, I can beg you this. Nobody knew my biography. Nobody opened my biography who voted for me in the campaign.”
At least 21 candidates have put their names forward, seeking to unseat Mr. Santos in 2024. The list of opponents includes nine Republican challengers, meaning Mr. Santos will have to survive a primary just to make it to the November 2024 general election.
Mr. Santos faces nine additional Democratic challengers, including his predecessor, former Rep. Tom Suozzi. Mr. Suozzi retired from Congress in 2022 to run for governor of New York that year.