Tom Suozzi, former county exec, running for governor


U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi announced on Monday that he was a candidate for governor.

“I’m running for governor because I believe this is the job I am made for,” Suozzi said at a news conference. “Everything I’ve done has prepared me for this particular job at this particular time.”

Suozzi, 59, of Glen Cove, described himself as a “common-sense Democrat.” He said he would work with anyone to solve problems to benefit the people he serves. “I’ve had a proven record in my career of doing that,” he said. “It’s about doing the correct thing to help people.”

He added, “I feel like this whole left-right extremist thing is killing our country and our state.”

Suozzi, a Democrat who represents the North Shore’s 3rd Congressional District, has worked over the past four years to reinstate homeowners’ ability to deduct all of their state and local taxes from their federal income tax bills. The SALT deduction, which was capped at $10,000 in 2017, has cost many Long Island residents thousands of dollars annually. Most recently, Suozzi pledged that he would not vote for infrastructure and social spending bills proposed by President Biden if SALT reform were not included in the legislation.

The House approved a provision in Biden’s infrastructure bill on Nov. 19 to raise the SALT cap to $80,000. The bill now goes to the Democratically led Senate, where it is expected to pass.

Suozzi said that the other candidates for governor — who include the incumbent, Kathy Hochul, who replaced Andrew Cuomo when he resigned in August, and state Attorney General Letitia James — do not have the qualities he has that would help him succeed in Albany. He cited his experience as a county executive and his success as mayor of Glen Cove, and added that he has an ideology, a vision and a plan for New York state.

“As Nassau County executive, I turned around and managed a county that had a budget larger than 11 states … I reduced crime and championed a $150 million environmental program,” he said.

And as Glen Cove mayor, he said, he restored the city’s fiscal health and revitalized the downtown business district. One of his proudest accomplishments, he said, was leading “a nationally recognized $100 million cleanup of some of America's worst toxic superfund sites.”

He pledged to continue his fight to protect the environment and combat climate change. His plans for the state include reducing state income taxes and property taxes, which are the highest in the nation, combating rising crime and strictly enforcing gun laws.

Although he supports the state’s bail reform law, Suozzi said it needed tweaking to empower judges to keep violent criminals off the streets.

An attorney and an accountant, Suozzi first ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006, losing a primary bid to the eventual winner, Eliot Spitzer. Suozzi had formed Fix Albany in 2004, with the goal, he said, of exposing corruption in New York state politics. Although his grass-roots effort was popular, the Democratic Party supported Spitzer, Suozzi lost by a large margin, failing to carry even Nassau County.

Spitzer was forced to resign in 2008 amid a sex scandal.

The primary loss was a tough blow for Suozzi, who had beaten the electoral odds in the past. In 2001, after four terms as Glen Cove’s mayor, he was elected Nassau County executive, the first Democrat in three decades to win he job. During his tenure, from 2002 to 2009, he eliminated a $45 million deficit, which kept the county from falling into bankruptcy.

But after easily winning two county executive races, Suozzi lost to Edward Mangano twice, in 2009 (by just 386 votes) and again in 2013. Suozzi then took a break from politics, but returned in 2017, when he defeated Republican Jack Martins to win the 3rd Congressional District seat.

A person who is close to County Legislator Josh Lafazan said that Lafazan was seriously considering a campaign for Suozzi’s seat in Congress, and would make a decision in the next couple of weeks. Lafazan, an independent from Woodbury who caucuses with the Democrats in the Legislature and represents the North Shore’s 18th Legislative District, was re-elected last month.