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George Santos announces he’s running for Congress again

Former GOP Rep. George Santos, who was expelled from the House last year and is facing federal charges, announced Thursday night that he’s running for Congress again — this time to challenge a Republican congressman in New York.

“Tonight, I want to announce that I will be returning to the arena of politics and challenging Nick for the battle over #NY1,” Santos wrote on X, referring to GOP Rep. Nick LaLota. “I look forward to debating him on the issues and on his weak record as a Republican. The fight for our majority is imperative for the survival of the country.”

The former congressman, who had represented New York’s 3rd District, made his announcement during President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Thursday — during which he was spotted at the US Capitol.

Santos enters a battleground contest in New York that’s among several races in the state that could decide the House majority – though he’ll face steep odds for his comeback bid, even setting aside his personal baggage, in challenging an incumbent in a June primary.

LaLota quickly hit back at Santos’ new bid Thursday night. “To raise the standard in Congress, and to hold a pathological liar who stole an election accountable, I led the charge to expel George Santos. If finishing the job requires beating him in a primary, count me in,” LaLota said.

LaLota had introduced a resolution to expel his fellow New York Republican last fall, saying that he deserved “to be in prison.”

In his announcement for his new campaign, Santos called his former colleague a RINO, or Republican in Name Only. “New York hasn’t had a real conservative represent them since I left office arbitrarily, thanks to RINO, empty suits like @nicklalota,” he wrote on X.

A crowded field of Democrats has assembled to try to flip New York’s 1st District, which is rated Lean Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.

John Avlon, a former CNN commentator, and Nancy Goroff, a professor emeritus at Stony Brook University who lost a bid for the House in 2020, are among the lead contenders on the Democratic side.

“Bring it on,” Avlon said in a statement Thursday night responding to Santos’ new campaign.

The Santos for Congress campaign also filed organization paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday night, stating his intention to run in the 1st District. The campaign’s new filing identified the return of a treasurer who previously worked for Santos.

Santos is the sixth lawmaker ever to be expelled from the chamber. He has separately pleaded not guilty to 23 federal charges, including allegations of fraud related to Covid-19 unemployment benefits, misusing campaign funds and lying about his personal finances on House disclosure reports.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Haley Talbot contributed to this report.

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