George Santos says he’s leaving the Republican Party and will run for Congress as an independent

Former New York Rep. George Santos announced Friday that he was leaving the Republican Party and would continue his congressional comeback bid as an independent.

Santos, who faces a slew of federal charges and was expelled from the House last year, attacked the GOP in a social media post and pledged to take “Ultra MAGA/Trump supporting values to the ballot in November as an Independent.”

“I in good conscience cannot affiliate myself with a party that stands for nothing and falls for everything,” he wrote on X. “I am officially suspending my petitioning in #NY01 to access the ballot as a Republican and will be filling to run as an independent.”

Santos previously represented New York’s 3rd Congressional District on Long Island. Earlier this month, during President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, the former congressman announced he would challenge Republican Rep. Nick LaLota in the neighboring 1st District. LaLota introduced a resolution to expel him last fall.

LaLota, an outspoken critic of Santos, responded to the challenge by touting his effort to kick out his former colleague and “hold a pathological liar who stole an election accountable.”

“If finishing the job requires beating him in a primary, count me in,” LaLota said on March 7.

Santos has 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.

For Santos to run as an independent in November, he’ll need to file an independent nominating petition with the signatures of 3,500 voters in New York’s 1st District to the Suffolk County Board of Elections by May 28.

CNN’s Molly English, Haley Talbot, David Wright and Simone Pathe contributed to this report.

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