What really happens if George Santos is expelled this week

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You never know for sure what these House Republicans are going to do, because they’re such a discombobulated mess, they never know what they’re going to do. But it is clear that, in the wake of the ethics committee report, there is significant momentum within the House Republican caucus to expel George Santos this week. So what if it really happens?

For starters, George Santos would be immediately gone from Congress. This wouldn’t change much about his legal prospects. He’s out on bail awaiting trial on criminal charges that will send him to prison if he’s convicted, and that remains the same whether he’s expelled or not. But Santos’ expulsion would have a major political impact.

By rule there would be a special election in New York’s 3rd House District to replace George Santos, sometime in very early 2024. This is a moderate district that could go either way (Santos did win it in 2022), but because Santos has created such problems for the Republican Party in his district, the Democrats would be at least modestly favored in the election to replace him. But it would still have the potential to be a fairly close race.

So it would be the kind of special election that would get significant national media attention (due to the Santos angle) and would prompt significant effort from both sides to try to win it. The special election would serve as a de facto referendum on the 2024 election cycle.

If the Democrats win the special election – particularly if they win it by more than just a point or two – this could hamper the national media’s ability to keep insisting that the Democrats are doomed in 2024. So not only can the Democrats flip a House seat in early 2024 (at a time when the Republicans’ narrow House majority is more unstable than ever), but the Democrats can also change the narrative for 2024.

In reality the November 2023 elections – which the Democrats swept – were the better indicator of what position each party is in heading into 2024. But because the national media paid little attention to the 2023 elections to begin with, it was then able to mostly ignore the Democrats’ strong performance, and just go back to chasing ratings by yelling “the Democrats are doomed.” But because the national media would likely make such a circus out of a special election to replace Santos, it would then have a hard time ignoring a big Democratic Party win in that election.

There’s still no guarantee that this special election will take place. House Republicans would have to actually expel George Santos first. And while expulsion now seems more likely than not, these House Republicans are in chaos from one day to the next.

But if Santos is expelled, we need to gear up and treat this special election like it’s really important. Not only will we want to help push Democratic candidate Anna Kaplan over the top so we can flip the House seat, we’ll also want to run up the score in order to silence the media. Remember, competitive elections are won by your small dollar donations, your phone banking shifts, and your willingness to retweet the Democratic candidate’s campaign messaging. So let’s be ready to go win this.

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