Less than three months into his turbulent House tenure, Rep. George Santos has a challenger.
William Murphy, a Democrat who teaches legal studies at St. John’s University, has said he will stage a congressional run in Santos’ district, which covers a chunk of Long Island and a sliver of eastern Queens.
Murphy may be the first Democrat to take on Santos, the Republican who spun an outlandish web of campaign lies before his election last year. But the professor is all but certain not to be the last.
Murphy, who is 39 and lives in Farmingdale, Long Island, said he will run in 2024 on pledges to serve no more than three terms and to carry “common-sense, centrist policies” to Washington.
He also promised he would not receive outside income or actively invest as a congressman.
“This is a real person going to Washington to fight for real solutions for real problems,” he said in an interview. “It’s time to put Washington back to work for the people.”
Murphy has not launched a campaign website or filed a candidacy declaration with the Federal Election Commission. But he has created a campaign Instagram account and said he plans to file with the FEC next month.
The Torch, the student newspaper at St. John’s, previously reported Murphy’s candidacy.
The first-time politician presented himself as a contrast with Santos, who has embraced the far-right wing of the Republican Party since he was sworn in under a cloud in January. Last month, Santos co-sponsored legislation to make the AR-15-style assault rifle the national gun.
Murphy, who has taught at St. John’s full-time for six years, said he is unsure if he would be running in New York’s 3rd Congressional District if not for Santos’ rise.
“George Santos was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Murphy said. “But the truth is, candidates on both sides of the aisle have not adequately represented the people of NY-03 for some time now.”
At the same time, he described himself as part of a “new age of Long Island Democrats” cut from the same cloth as Tom Suozzi, who represented the 3rd District for three terms before making a doomed Democratic run for governor.
Suozzi’s exit from Congress opened the seat that Santos seized in the fall.
As a candidate, Santos fashioned a falsehood-filled résumé, deceiving voters about his education, religion, family history, professional experience and property ownership.
Santos admitted some of his myriad misrepresentations, which were first uncovered in December by The New York Times. But he has maintained he is not a fraud and rejected calls for his resignation.
On March 14, he filed a so-called statement of candidacy with the FEC for a 2024 reelection run.
Multiple American prosecutors’ offices have opened probes into Santos, and a prosecutor’s office in Brazil has revived a long-dormant criminal case against him.
Early this month, the House ethics committee ordered an investigation into Santos’ campaign finances and a sexual harassment allegation lodged against him.
Roughly $700,000 that Santos is reported to have lent to his last campaign has come under particular scrutiny. A nonpartisan watchdog has suggested Santos may have conducted a so-called straw donor scheme to pour someone else’s money into his campaign under his own name.
A spokeswoman for Santos, Naysa Woomer, declined to comment on Murphy’s challenge.
“Frankly,” Murphy said, “I feel what’s needed for the district right now to restore trust, to restore confidence in government, and to bring people back together and get things done, is someone who is not a politician.”