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The centrist three-term Democrat who represents a congressional district on the north shore of New York’s Long Island announced on Monday that he’s running for governor rather than seek reelection to the House.
“I’m a common sense Democrat who gets things done,” Suozzi repeatedly said as he declared his candidacy for governor during a news conference and in a campaign video.
“I’ll work with anybody. I’ll work with Democrats. I’ll work with Republicans. I’ll work with progressives. I’ll work with moderates. I’ll work with anybody to actually solve problems and get things done on behalf of the people I serve. I’ve got a proven record throughout my career of always doing that,” he emphasized.
And in his launch video, the former Glen Cove, New York, mayor and former county executive of suburban Nassau County, spotlighted that “everything I have done in my career has prepared for this particular job at this particular time.”
But the move by Suozzi will only embolden Republicans hoping to flip his congressional district from blue to red in next year’s midterm elections, where the GOP needs a net gain of just five seats to regain the chamber’s majority. Suozzi is on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) list of most vulnerable Democrats heading into the 2022 midterms and on a separate ‘exit list’ of Democrats who may not seek reelection next year.
“Tom Suozzi is making the smart decision to quit Congress rather than lose in 2022. Democrats will now be force to play defense and spend precious resources to try and keep this seat,” NRCC spokeswoman Camille Gallo argued.
Suozzi, who previously ran for New York governor in 2006, joins a Democratic primary field that already includes Gov. Kathy Hochul, the former lieutenant governor who in August was sworn in as the state’s first female governor. Hochul succeeded then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned in disgrace amid multiple scandals, including allegations that he sexually harassed more than 10 women.
Hochul – a moderate who secured key endorsements, has quickly built a large fundraising war chest, and enjoys a lead in the polls – is considered the clear front-runner right now in the Democratic gubernatorial nomination race.
Also in the race is New York State Attorney General Letitia James. The progressive Democrat who oversaw the state investigation into the Cuomo sexual harassment allegations, is seeking to become the first Black female governor in the nation’s history.
Another declared candidate is New York City public advocate Jumaane Williams. The left-leaning contender energized progressive voters during his 2018 campaign for lieutenant governor. Term-limited New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who’s in his final weeks steering the nation’s most populous city, has been mulling a gubernatorial bid.
Suozzi, pointing to his competitors for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, said “I think when it comes to my executive experience and my ideology, I’ve got clear differences with the other folks running in this race.”
He took aim at the state’s tax rates, saying “I think the property taxes and the income taxes in New York State are too high.” He argued that the current levels are “stopping…people staying here, bringing businesses here. We’ve got to reduce the property taxes and reduce the income taxes and we have to reduce regulation. We have to make it more attractive for people to be here in New York State.”
Crime is another issue Suozzi is spotlighting. The announcer in his campaign launch video spotlighted that “as Nassau County executive, he oversaw the lowest crime rate in the history of Long Island.”
“Now, crime in New York is rising and Tom will help put more cops on the beat and give judges the power to take violent offenders off the streets,” the announcer said.
And the video also highlighted another issue of importance for New Yorkers, noting that “in Congress, Tom led the fight to repeal the cap on state and local tax deductions devastating New York’s middle class.”
New York is a solidly blue state where Cuomo won reelection to a third term in 2018 by 23 points and now President Biden carried the state by the same margin in last year’s election.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, who represents the east end of Long Island in the House and who’s received the backing of much of the state’s Republican Party leadership, is the clear front runner in GOP gubernatorial primary. Andrew Giuliani, who served in former President Donald Trump’s administration and is the son of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, is also running for the GOP nomination, as is former Westchester County executive Rob Astorino.