State Watch

Rep. Suozzi to run for New York governor

Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D) will run for governor of New York next year, positioning himself as a moderate in a growing field of progressives hoping to lead the Empire State.

Suozzi, 59, announced his campaign Monday morning in a virtual press conference.

"I'm a common sense Democrat. I don't believe it's about going to the far left or the far right, it's about trying to find the answers to the problems we face," Suozzi told reporters in a Zoom call. "When it comes to my experience and my ideology, there are clear differences with the other folks."

He called for property and income tax cuts, urged new funding for more police officers and housing for the mentally ill and the homeless, and said New York needed to cut regulations to become more attractive to residents and business.

This is Suozzi's second try at the governorship. In 2006, Suozzi lost a primary bid to then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D) by a wide margin. Spitzer resigned two years later in a prostitution scandal.

"I ran for governor once before. Didn't work out very well for me. Didn't work out for Eliot Spitzer, either," Suozzi joked to The Hill in an interview last month.

Suozzi is the third prominent Democrat to say he would challenge Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), who ascended to the governorship when Andrew Cuomo resigned in the face of numerous allegations of sexual harassment. Attorney General Letitia James (D) and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (D) have also joined the race.

And the field could get more crowded: Outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli (D) are said to be considering bids of their own.

Many of those candidates will run as progressives. But Suozzi, a former Nassau County executive, has staked out more centrist turf. He publicly backed Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (D) for reelection after Brown lost the Democratic primary to a more progressive challenger; Brown later won a write-in campaign to secure another term in office.

Rep. Lee Zeldin is seen as the leading candidate for the Republican nomination. Former Westchester County executive Rob Astorino, the 2014 Republican nominee, and former Trump administration official Andrew Giuliani  are also running.

Suozzi's decision to run opens what is likely to be a competitive battle for his seat in Congress. His district covers parts of Nassau, Suffolk and Queens counties on Long Island, a district that backed President Biden by a 10-point margin in 2020.

But Democrats suffered surprising losses in local elections on Long Island this year, and Republicans have hopes of reclaiming the district. George Santos, who lost to Suozzi by 12 points last year, has already said he will run again.

Suozzi is the 18th House Democrat to say he will not seek reelection in 2022, and the eighth who will run instead for another office. Eleven House Republicans have said they will not seek another term next year, seven of whom are running for other offices.

Updated: 11:13 a.m.