NEW YORK — Long Island Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi said Monday that he is running for New York governor in next year’s election, joining a competitive primary race that became wide open when former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned.
Suozzi told reporters on a virtual news conference that he’s jumping into the 2022 race.
“I’m a common sense Democrat,” Suozzi said. “I don’t believe it’s about going to the far left or to the far right; it’s about trying to find the answers to the problems that we face.”
The announcement by the 59-year-old congressman from Long Island came days after the U.S. House passed President Joe Biden’s expansive social and environment bill.
The legislation contains a provision boosting the limit on state and local taxes that people can deduct from federal taxes, something that disproportionately helps top earners from high-tax coastal states like New York and that Suozzi has been fighting for.
During the launch of his campaign Monday, Suozzi told reporters “Everything I’ve done is prepared me for this particular job at this particular time.”
Suozzi had said for months he’s been considering a gubernatorial campaign but first wanted to get the tax deduction cap raised in Congress and use that to make his pitch to voters.
The bill passed recently by the House raised the $10,000 cap to $80,000. The legislation now moves to the Senate, where it could get scaled back.
Suozzi represents Long Island, including its wealthy north shore, and parts of Queens in New York’s 3rd Congressional District. He survived a tough reelection in 2020, eking out a win in in the swing district that tilts toward Democrats.
Suozzi was Mayor of his hometown Glen Cove, Long Island and served as Nassau County Executive before going to Congress in 2017.
As governor, Suozzi said he’d fight to lower New York’s property and income taxes.
“People are still leaving our state because of the taxes, that’s the main reason people leave the state,” Suozzi said.
Suozzi also discussed reducing crime rates and re-examining bail reform, saying he believes the state should “give judges the discretion to keep violent offenders off the street.”
The open race to replace him will likely be highly contested by both parties. Democrats have a five-vote margin in the House and historically are expected to lose seats in the midterm elections because they are the party in power.
Rather than face another tough GOP challenge in a reelection battle, Suozzi in the governor’s race is expected to be able to draw on his moderate credentials as he faces several primary challengers running to his left.
The Democratic primary race includes Gov. Kathy Hochul, who took office after Cuomo resigned amid sexual harassment allegations; Attorney General Letitia James, whose investigation of the allegations prompted Cuomo’s resignation; and Jumaane Williams, New York City’s elected public advocate.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose term ends this year, has also been hinting that he may enter the race. De Blasio filed paperwork to create a fundraising committee last month.
He has repeatedly said he’d like to continue in public service, and in an appearance recently on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” unveiled a campaign-style state education plan but danced around questions about whether he would run for governor.
De Blasio, James and Williams all count on a base of voter support in Brooklyn, while Hochul hails from Buffalo in western New York.
For the Republican primary Congressman Lee Zeldin, former Westchester County Execuitve Rob Astorino and former advisor to President Donald Trump Andrew Giuliani are all in the running.
Suozzi first drew his first statewide attention in 2004 as a local elected official leading a “Fix Albany” movement to stop mandates in the state capital on local governments that raised local taxes. His effort helped unseat two incumbent state legislators.
Suozzi, an accountant and lawyer, made one run for governor before, in 2006. He lost the Democratic primary to Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer later resigned in a sex scandal.
Before he was elected to Congress in 2016, Suozzi served as mayor of Glen Cove from 1994 to 2001, and as Nassau County’s elected executive from 2002 to 2009.
Villeneuve reported from Albany.