The special election for New York’s 3rd Congressional District (NY-3) is less than three weeks away. But Republican candidate Mazi Pilip continues to duck the press and avoid a debate with her opponent Tom Suozzi, who held the seat from 2017 to 2023.

The Pilip campaign is denying journalists direct access to its candidate. Brigid Bergin, a reporter for WNYC, addressed Pilip by X, formerly known as Twitter, and asked why her campaign refuses to provide her with basic information on campaign events, like a press conference she conducted on Thursday. Nicholas Fandos of The New York Times and David Goldiner of the Daily News expressed the same concerns as Bergin. Eyewitness News’s Kimberly Richardson also said the Pilip campaign has yet to approve the station’s request for an interview.

All four are political reporters with major local New York news outlets.

Pilip, a two-term Nassau County legislator, lacks the polish of an experienced candidate. At a news conference on Thursday, Pilip told reporters she would debate Suozzi on February 18. The special election, however, is on February 13.

The Pilip-Suozzi Race Will Be About Turnout

Suozzo holds a thin 3% lead over Pilip in an Emerson College poll released earlier this month. That’s within the margin of error. Roughly 9% of voters are undecided. The former Nassau County executive, however, holds a much larger 14% lead among very likely voters.

Immigration tops the concerns for voters in NY-3. Twenty-six percent of voters listed it as the most important issue for them. Pilip, an Ethiopian-Israeli immigrant, devotes much of her time to speaking about Israel, though she is now making the migrant crisis the focus of her attack ads.

NY-3 voters also listed the economy (22%) and crime (15%) as among their top concerns.

Suozzi has a 50% approval rating and nearly universal name recognition. As for Pilip, 21% of voters say they’re unfamiliar with her, underscoring the need for the Republican candidate to make herself available to the press and participate in debates. Public scrutiny is also especially important in this race given that Pilip is running to succeed disgraced former Congressman George Santos.

A Diversifying District

While Pilip leads with white and Hispanic voters, Suozzi has a massive 35-point lead among Asian voters, who make up a quarter of the population of the increasingly diverse congressional district. The Suozzi campaign has been aggressive in reaching out to a broad range of NY-3 voters, while the Pilip campaign remains insular.

Long Island Insider is a local news site covering the communities of Nassau and Suffolk counties and the broader New York City metro area. We provide a local lens on business, community events, crime, education, food, politics, real estate, sports, and technology on this island home to three million people.

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