Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-Queens/Long Island) announced Monday at a virtual press conference that he is officially running for governor in 2022, and he believes that every job he has had leads up to championing the executive branch of New York State.
The former mayor of Glen Cove and Nassau County executive now describes himself as a “common sense Democrat” representing parts of Queens and Long Island in Congress.
“I’m the only one with a proven executive experience. I’ve got a record of doing this stuff and getting stuff done. And again, I’m a common sense Democrat. I don’t pander,” Suozzi said via Zoom.
“I think that people are concerned about COVID in the economy, they’re concerned about property taxes, they’re concerned about income taxes, they’re concerned about crime,” he said, and will be campaigning to prove that he can address these problems.
He has been compared to current Governor Kathy Hochul and former Governor Andrew Cuomo, but said he wants to run in the “Suozzi lane” rather than just continue their work.
One thing he definitely is not: a progressive.
He’ll be in stark opposition to liberal leader and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who confirmed his run earlier in November. It’s more crowded close to the center of the Democratic ticket, with Governor Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James also announcing runs. “It’s not about being politically correct. It’s about doing the correct thing to actually help people,” he said; Comments that bolster his previous resistance to moving the party to the left.
Suozzi has a proven track record of reaching across the aisle despite his own politics. He currently serves as vice-chair of the Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan effort in Washington that works across party lines to complete initiatives they agree on.
“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 that I serve. I’ve got a proven record throughout my career of always doing that,” he said.
In his campaign video, Suozzi features Wayne J. Hall, former mayor of Hempstead and Louise Skolnik, former Nassau County Director of Social Services, as two of his main supporters.
“He’s really interested in other people,” Skolnik said.
But as governor, he’ll be inheriting a host of problems, including yet another variant of COVID-19. Governor Hochul announced another state of emergency on Sunday in light of the Omicron variant, though it hasn’t been detected in New York State yet.
“We have to address the issue of COVID constantly every single day working with the scientists and the Health Department officials. It’s got to be always top of mind or it’s going to get away from us the way it is right now.” Suozzi said of Hochul’s announcement. He also advocated for the COVID-19 vaccine booster shots during the call.
This announcement to run for governor comes just after he declined Mayor-elect Eric Adams’ invitation to join him as deputy mayor of New York City. Suozzi said Adams knew he was considering a run for governor.
“I just believe that I can best help the mayor of New York City and other local elected officials throughout the state succeed by being the governor, because I understand I understand what mayors go through,” he said, adding that he has a great relationship with Adams.
Though his gubernatorial campaign will likely end his bid to retain his Congressional seat in a purple district, Suozzi did not completely rule out becoming a candidate for Congress again.
He said he currently has about $3 million in his congressional account that he will likely be using it the race for governor.
One of the other challengers in the race, state Attorney General Letitia James, released a statement in response to his candidacy.
“We welcome Representative Tom Suozzi to the campaign. In a short time, there has been a groundswell of excitement and enthusiasm around Attorney General Letitia James’ historic candidacy because New [Yorkers] know we need a change maker who can break the status quo as our next governor, and the only person who can deliver that transformational change is Letitia James,” she wrote.