Tom Suozzi isn’t bolting Congress to join the incoming Eric Adams administration as a deputy mayor, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his sights set on changing jobs.
Adams extended the invitation to Suozzi the week before Thanksgiving, and Suozzi said he would take the holiday week to think about it. But he also added the caveat that he was also interested in joining an increasingly crowded Democratic Primary for governor.
Former governor Andrew Cuomo’s term was up at the end of next year, which means Governor Kathy Hochul will already have to defend the seat she was given when Cuomo left office in disgrace.
Other Democrats who have already announced their intent to run include Attorney Letitia James and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
Suozzi’s announcement could be a problem for Hochul. Both Williams and James will run progressive campaigns, while Hochul would likely position herself as a more centrist Democrat to appeal to suburban and upstate voters.
The problem is that’s exactly the same space that Suozzi plans to occupy.
When Suozzi announced his decision on Monday, he said he would be running as a “common-sense Democrat” focused on working-class issues, such as lower income and property taxes and putting more cops on the streets.
He also said he was opposed to key issues that appeal to left-leaning Democrats. He is against a carbon tax in New York, saying that should be left to the federal government, as well as a bill that would make it harder for landlords to evict tenants without a court order.
Suozzi has name recognition on Long Island, as in addition to representing Nassau and Queens counties in Congress, Suozzi served as Nassau County executive before he was sent to Washington by voters in 2017.
Republicans made several key gains in local elections last year, which shows voters are pushing back against progressive politics and leaning more conservative. Suozzi’s political record, as well as his stance on key issues like taxes and crime, would appeal to just those type of voters.
Unfortunately for Hochul, she was counting on those voters, as well.
And it won’t hurt Suozzi that he is already thought of highly by Adams, which will help with voters in New York City. An endorsement from Adams – still a long ways off! – would be a big coup for Suozzi and can only help him with voters who might have been leaning toward James or Williams.
It’s been a long time since New York City has had a governor and mayor who actually like each other, let alone simply show even a modicum of professionalism and respect.
Reports indicated that in recent weeks party strategists were urging Suozzi to steer clear of the governor’s race and instead focus on winning back his congressional seat, which is now seen as being flippable by Republicans if the incumbent were to leave it vacant.
House Democrats are already holding onto a tenuous majority, and replacing Suozzi with a member of the GOP will only exacerbate that issue.
When asked about just that at his announcement, Suozzi had this to say:
“Congress is great, and I’m hoping we’re gonna win the majority again, and we may not, we may, it doesn’t matter. I’m running for governor, because I believe that this is the job that I am made for. Everything I’ve done has prepared me for this particular job at this particular time.”
At least one Republican candidate has already announced they would challenge Suozzi in 2022. Kevin Surdi, an ER nurse, wasted no time in characterizing Suozzi’s decision as that of an incumbent who knows they don’t stand a chance at winning reelection.
“After the Republican tidal wave in Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties, career politician Tom Suozzi sees the writing on the wall and is once again putting his ambition above his constituents,” the Surdi campaign said in statement. “CD-3 is red and he knows it.”
Next year is shaping up to be a busy one for Suozzi.