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Who is Mazi Pilip, Republican in New York’s special election?

Mazi Pilip, the Republican in New York’s 3rd Congressional District race, is not well-known on Long Island. She had just started her second term as a Nassau County legislator when the local Republican Party tapped her to run for the congressional seat.

Pilip, 44, is a mother of seven children who was born in Ethiopia, immigrated to Israel and served in the Israel Defense Forces before relocating to the United States. She has made supporting Israel and opposing illegal immigration key features of her campaign. And with far fewer years in elected office compared to her Democratic opponent, Pilip has relied on her biography as a way of giving herself credibility on these issues.

Mazi has described herself as a paratrooper in the IDF and has regularly featured a picture of herself holding a firearm while she served. After Hamas militants killed more than 1,000 Israelis in an attack on Oct. 7, Pilip spoke at a gathering in support of Israel and described her training. “If you are under serious attack, then you will shoot. But when you shoot, you don’t shoot to kill. You shoot to the legs,” and “We never trained to kill.”

This month the New York Times reported that despite describing herself as a paratrooper, Pilip “was an armorer maintaining weapons in the paratrooper’s brigade, not a paratrooper or trained parachutist.”

Pilip has been criticized for agreeing to participate in only one debate, which took place after early voting began. Early in the campaign Pilip appeared to avoid reporters who were covering the campaign, in favor of friendlier interviews with conservative or select local outlets. In January she told the Jewish Star, “I don’t have that much time to have debates.” Since then Pilip has traveled to Florida and Washington for fundraising, and began speaking to more news outlets.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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