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Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi announces run for governor, joins crowded Democratic field

Tom Suozzi
Suozzi for NY
Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi announced he will run for governor of New York on Nov. 29, 2021.

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 on Monday.

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

Hochul is running for election after replacing former governor Andrew Cuomo, who resigned last summer over a sexual harassment scandal. Recent polls show Hochul as the frontrunner in the race, ahead of progressive democrats 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 long time executive experience.

He is former mayor of Glen Cove and 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. Suozzi says a lack of focus in recent months by state leaders may have contributed to spiking rates of the virus in Western New York and other upstate regions, where the rate of infection 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 is ahead on fundraising, but Suozzi said he can draw on $3 million from his congressional fund. Although he added that 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 pre-trial detention.

Suozzi’s announcement means that his Congressional seat, which encompasses parts of Long Island’s north shore 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, making 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.