By Matthew Adarichev
Many of us in Nassau County, myself included, are disgusted by the lies that Republican congressman George Santos has been spewing on a near-daily basis. Like many others, I would like to see Santos resign.
But this isn’t about Santos. We need to begin a conspicuously absent conversation about the Democratic incompetence that led to Santos being a factor in the first place.
It’s an important discussion for Democrats to have, not least because the next George Santos may not be such a liar. The goal of Democrats should be to decisively defeat Republicans because of better ideas, not to pin hopes on sporadic scandals in order to notch victories.
The narrow focus on Santos as an unprecedented liar blurs that goal. For me, Santos’ lies just made him worse; it was his policies, which would increase inflation and put doctors in jail for giving abortions, that made him a deal-breaker. Santos shouldn’t be in office, not because he lies a lot (though that’s part of it), but simply because he’s a cruel politician.
So how did Democratic incompetence lead us to Santos? Well, in January 2022, Robert Zimmerman announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the 3rd Congressional District. Zimmerman wasn’t well known, but he has been a member of the Democratic National Committee for over two decades.
Zimmerman hadn’t run a campaign since Ronald Reagan was in office, and he had lost all three of his previous elections. To call him vulnerable was an understatement. But the New York State Democratic Committee nevertheless coaxed some serious endorsements to get “their man” into office — including one from Hillary Clinton — and it worked. Zimmerman became the Democratic nominee with just 36 percent of the vote in the party’s primary.
Predictably, Zimmerman went on to lose to Santos by 7.5 percentage points. He received 40 percent fewer votes than Tom Suozzi did in defeating Santos in 2020. Most important, Zimmerman failed to expose Santos’ fraud before the election.
Zimmerman claims his campaign “didn’t have the time or money” to “dig deeper” into his opponent’s background. With 10 and a half weeks until the election and over $3 million in campaign cash? I’m not buying it, especially since it turns out that a Democratic group had already given Zimmerman 87 pages of Santos’ red flags before the election.
Then again, I err in expecting competency from the New York Democratic Committee. Party chairman Jay Jacobs and his crew oversaw the Democratic bloodbath in Nassau County in 2021 (a county that has 30 percent more registered Democrats than Republicans) and didn’t invest a single dollar in two voting rights propositions that were voted down that year.
Last year, the Democrats came much closer to losing the governorship to a Republican than they anticipated in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1, and lost 20 percent of the entire Democratic House delegation. The New York Democratic Committee almost single-handedly cost the party the House of Representatives.
Democrats performed worse in every single county
in New York state than they did in 2020. And yet the state committee re-elected Jacobs party chairman a few months back.
We wouldn’t have to be reading these offensive stories about Santos pretending to be the descendant of Holocaust survivors if Democrats had just done their job. But when I read stories about Democratic Party bosses, like Brooklyn’s Frank Seddio, handing out contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to their close associates, I start to wonder whether they actually want to win.
It appears to me that the state Democratic committee is perfectly willing to gamble a loss on a poor candidate. As long as the money’s flowing in, what’s it to them? In fact, the scenario as it’s unfolding seems to be exactly what they want. The more the discussion centers on Santos as an aberration, the less we discuss holding the lazy, sclerotic, corrupt party machine accountable for letting people like him win in the first place.
Well, I do mind. I do care about the Democratic agenda. Here’s some tough love: It’s time to clear house and find new leadership that’s interested in winning. Because when the machine finally collapses, it’s going to be regular Democrats who get hurt.
Matthew Adarichev is a public policy major at Hofstra University, a political activist and an aspiring journalist whose work has appeared in the Hofstra Chronicle and the Anton Media Group.