“I’m willing to risk it all when I see something that needs to be done,” Suozzi told reporters after making his announcement. “And I’m willing to take those chances.”
A spokeswoman for Suozzi said the congressman will complete his congressional term.
Suozzi, 59, said he is “going to do everything I can” to make sure his congressional seat goes to another “common-sense Democrat.” He recognized that his district is a swing seat and said he does not know what will happen with redrawn district lines. During the last election, the GOP made inroads in Long Island, particularly in Suozzi’s Nassau County.
Suozzi said he informed Pelosi about his decision. He said that he “loves” being in Congress but that he feels a higher calling to run for governor and help bridge divisions within the state.
“I’m hoping that we’re going to win the majority again — and we may not. Doesn’t matter,” he said. “I’m running for governor because I believe that this is the job that I’m made for.”
With his announcement, Suozzi effectively declined New York Mayor-elect Eric Adams’s offer to serve as his deputy mayor.
Hochul took over from Andrew M. Cuomo, who resigned as governor in August amid sexual harassment allegations. She is seeking a full term next year. Hochul has built a solid fundraising apparatus and collected endorsements from the NAACP New York State Conference and the state’s Democratic Party chairman, Jay Jacobs. She also has secured support from groups such as Emily’s List and the Democratic Governors Association. Hochul, like Suozzi, is a moderate Democrat. The two would probably battle over the support of voters in more-moderate areas of the state, such as Long Island’s Suffolk and Nassau counties.
“I’m the only one with the proven executive experience. I mean I’ve got a record of doing this stuff and getting stuff done,” Suozzi, a former Nassau County executive, told reporters after being asked what sets him apart from Hochul. “I’m a common-sense Democrat. I don’t pander.”
Suozzi declined to offer his thoughts on Hochul’s performance as governor so far. He also did not share details on how he is doing financially compared with Hochul, saying that he had just filed to run and that he plans on pulling some of his money from his congressional campaign account, in which he says he has about $3 million.
Letitia James, the state’s attorney general who oversaw an investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo and is a favorite of progressive Democrats, is also running for governor and is, so far, the highest-profile candidate to challenge Hochul. James would be the first Black woman to hold the office. Jumaane Williams, New York City’s public advocate, is a candidate in the Democratic primary, as well. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose term ends this year, is flirting with the idea of a gubernatorial run.
On the Republican side in a Democratic-leaning state, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) has announced his gubernatorial bid and will face Andrew Giuliani — son of former Trump lawyer and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani — in the primary.
This is Suozzi’s second New York gubernatorial campaign. He ran in 2006, when he lost a primary bid to then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
Suozzi made his official announcement during an appearance on Long Island’s News 12. Describing himself as a “lifelong Democrat,” Suozzi said he would “work with everyone, though,” if they were willing to advance the public good. He said that, as governor, he would lower property and income taxes, work on bail reform, fight gun violence and continue making the pandemic the state’s No. 1 priority, saying it will always be “top of mind.”
“We all know about the flaws from the previous governor but, listen, he was in … the executive chamber every day, talking about covid and working with experts to make sure we stayed on top of it all the time. So we have to be doing that,” Suozzi told reporters.
Suozzi, however, was quick to note that there are “a lot of differences between Andrew M. Cuomo” and him. He does not want to say he is “running in the Cuomo lane,” he said.
“I need to build a coalition, in order to do this, that goes from Long Island into the city up to the suburbs,” he said. “I think that my message, again, is going to resonate.”
Upon Suozzi’s announcement, Democrat Melanie D’Arrigo, who is running in his congressional district’s primary, tweeted that the race “has just become one of our best chances to elect another progressive to Congress.” Republican George Santos, Suozzi’s challenger last year, has, through his Twitter account, hinted at another run for the seat.