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Democrat Zak Malamed drops bid to take on George Santos

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NEW YORK — Democrat Zak Malamed dropped his bid Wednesday morning for a closely watched House seat held by Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) and endorsed former Rep. Tom Suozzi.

Malamed’s decision to get out of the race a year before the election comes as Democrats are focusing on flipping an estimated five House seats in New York in order to regain control of the narrowly divided chamber.

“Nominating Tom Suozzi is our best chance to flip this district blue and end the toxic hold that MAGA Republicans have on Long Island and Congress at large,” Malamed said in a statement. “I have spent the past five months knocking on doors, speaking to voters and energizing donors across the district. I look forward to continuing that work to win this election and to inspire the next generation of leadership.”

The seat is currently held by Republican Santos, who is facing felony fraud charges. Santos’ legal problems and acknowledged fabrication of much of his biography has led his fellow New York Republicans to push for his expulsion from the House, a process that so far has been unsuccessful.

Malamed was among the Democrats seeking the nomination for the third district, a seat that covers parts of Nassau County and Queens.

And the field is a crowded one: Former state Sen. Anna Kaplan, Josh Lafazan, William Murphy, Steve Behar, Scott Livingston, Austin Cheng and Darius Radzius have filed to run for the Democratic nod in the district.

Malamed had been a prodigious fundraiser early on. In October, his campaign reported $524,000 in cash on hand after raising $302,000 over three months.

But Democrats want to avoid a messy primary. Suozzi, who launched an unsuccessful primary campaign for governor against incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul last year, entered the race for his old seat in October.

“This moment is too important for an intra-party fight,” Malamed said. “All of our collective energy needs to be on electing a Democratic majority who can deliver relief for the American people, aid for Israel and support for Ukraine.”