© 2023 WRVO Public Media
Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi announces run for governor


Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi has officially announced he’s joining a crowded field in the 2022 Democratic primary for governor of New York.

Suozzi is positioning himself as a moderate during a time when the state’s Democratic leaders have been increasingly leaning left.

“I’m a common-sense Democrat,” Suozzi said. “I’ll work with anybody to actually solve problems and get things done.”

Suozzi spoke with reporters and released a video outlining his agenda and touting his accomplishments.

Suozzi, who says the polarization between the left and the right and resulting extremism is “killing” the country, has a political philosophy most closely aligned with current Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Hochul is running for election after replacing former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned last summer over a sexual harassment scandal. Recent polls show Hochul as the front-runner in the race, ahead of progressive Democrats like state Attorney General Tish James and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

Suozzi declined to criticize Hochul directly but said he’s the only one running who has longtime executive experience. He is the former mayor of Glen Cove and served as Nassau County executive. He said the state needs to be managed better and that dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic needs to be “top of mind” every day.

He said a lack of focus in recent months by state leaders may have contributed to spiking rates of the coronavirus in western New York and other upstate regions, where the infection rate is above 10%, and hospital beds are filling up.

“Look at those numbers in western New York right now of the rate of infection,” Suozzi said. “It’s scary.”

Hochul defended her strategy for fighting the virus during a briefing on Monday, saying because the surges are regional and not statewide, she is not imposing any new mandates.

“It does not have to be a broad-brushed, one-size-fits-all approach,” Hochul said. “We are targeted but always have the tools to deploy more widely if necessary.”

The governor did issue a state of emergency order over the holiday weekend that allows her to ban elective surgeries at hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

Hochul is ahead on fundraising, but Suozzi said he can draw on $3 million from his congressional campaign fund. But he said he knows he needs to raise more than that to be successful.

Suozzi also weighed in on the controversial bail reforms enacted in New York in 2019. He said it is a “noble” and “correct” concept to keep poorer New Yorkers out of jail, while richer residents go free after being charged with a crime. But he said judges need more power and discretion to hold violent offenders in pretrial detention.

Suozzi’s announcement means that his congressional seat, which encompasses parts of Long Island and a portion of Queens, will be an open seat in a year when Democrats are expected to face a stiff challenge from Republicans.

He said the potential for the GOP to lead Congress in 2023, which would make him a member of the minority party, was not a factor in his decision to run for statewide office instead.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.