Late last year, the week before Christmas, The New York Times shined a bright light on several Rep. George Santos lies, touching off a brutal series of revelations surrounding the New York Republican. A week later, Politico reported that the freshman had privately let local GOP leaders know that he wouldn’t seek a second term, presumably to help curb the tide of resignation calls.
For party officials, that no doubt offered a ray of hope. Santos was on his way to becoming a national laughingstock, but Republicans could take some solace in the fact that they’d only have to put up with the congressman for one term.
Or so they thought at the time.
About a month ago, CNN reported that Santos had previously signaled his intention to forgo a 2024 race, but the Republican was prepared to run for re-election after all.
Today, he took another step in that direction. CNBC reported:
Embattled Republican Rep. George Santos of New York took a step Tuesday toward a possible bid for a second term in the House, where he is currently under investigation. Santos’ campaign filed a statement of candidacy for the 2024 election cycle with the Federal Election Commission, a move that could signal the freshman lawmaker’s intent to run for reelection.
It’s important to emphasize that filing the paperwork doesn’t mean that the scandal-plagued congressman will definitely run for re-election. It does, however, allow Santos to keep his options open — and to keep trying to raise funds for his political future.
The Campaign Legal Center’s Brendan Quinn told CNBC, “It does not necessarily mean he is running — it just means his campaign committee is raising money.”
A New York Times report added a related dimension to this, noting raising money is about more than just a possible 2024 campaign: Santos will be able to spend the funds “on various campaign-related expenses, including paying back the roughly $700,000 he lent to his campaign and paying any potential legal fees connected to the inquiries that he is currently facing.”
Given the fact that Santos is now dealing with a local investigation, a state investigation, a Justice Department investigation, an international investigation, and a congressional ethics investigation, it stands to reason that his legal bills are considerable.
So what happens if he decides to run for a second term? The likelihood of him facing intraparty primary rivals is roughly 100%, and there’s no reason to assume his congressional career would clear that hurdle.
But as things stand, GOP leaders apparently aren’t rushing to show him the door, despite his record of humiliation. Just two weeks ago, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was asked whether he’d support Santos if he sought a second term. The Republican leader said he’d “have a little difficulty doing that,” but the Californian also didn’t rule out the possibility.
Watch this space.