Yet another blue seat will be up for grabs in the upcoming midterm elections after Rep. Tom Suozzi of New York announced on Monday he’s stepping down to run for governor.
It’s bad news for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Democrats face an uphill battle to maintaining their thin majority in Congress just 11 months before the race.
Suozzi, a moderate Democrat representing Long Island’s 3rd Congressional District, revealed his gubernatorial aspirations during a press conference this morning where he also admitted he was ‘concerned’ his seat may be won by a Republican in 2022.
During the event he also decried extremism on both sides of the political spectrum.
‘Everything I’ve done has prepared me for this particular job at this particular time and I have a clear rationale to distinguish myself from the other candidates,’ Suozzi said.
‘So, I feel like this whole, you know, left-to-right extremist thing in our country is killing our country, and it’s killing our state.’
Suozzi’s departure from the House will leave behind a gaping hole in an area where Republicans won handily earlier this month.
While GOP voters in Virginia delivered Glenn Youngkin a stunning gubernatorial victory and those in New Jersey nearly unseated the state’s popular Democrat governor, Long Island Republicans in Nassau County decisively ousted Democrats from local government roles.
The GOP trounced Democrats there all the way down the ballot, including winning district attorney, county comptroller and county clerk.
Rep. Tom Suozzi’s (left) planned departure leaves behind a ‘swing seat’ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have to defend in just 11 months
Currently Democrats hold a majority of 221 to 213 seats in the House. So far 18 have announced they are retiring or seeking other elected office, compared to 12 Republicans doing the same
Nassau County voters also elected Republicans to serve as county executive and mayor of Glen Cove, New York – both seats Suozzi held in the past.
And while the lawmaker managed to fend off a Republican challenger in 2020, he did so just barely – trailing first-time candidate George Santos until mail-in ballots help him scrape out a six-point victory.
There are currently 221 Democrats in the House and 213 Republicans.
Suozzi joins 17 other members of his party in Congress in retiring or seeking other elected offices.
In comparison just 12 Republicans so far are doing the same.
During his announcement on Monday Suozzi conceded that his was a ‘swing seat’ but vowed to help Democrats keep it.
‘I’m going to do everything I can to make sure my congressional seat goes to another common sense Democrat,’ he said, but added the vacancy is a ‘concern because it’s a swing seat.’
Suozzi, who is leaving to run for governor, previously failed to win the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2006 to disgraced former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer (pictured: the two candidates during a heated debate in July 2006)
A member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, Suozzi dedicated much of his tenure to restoring state and local tax deductions and helping mitigate the sky-high tax burden most New Yorkers bear.
He had a relatively brief tenure compared to some of his other outgoing colleagues, only arriving in Washington, DC in 2017.
It’ll be his second run for the governor’s seat after a failed bid in 2006. Suozzi had lost the Democratic primary to disgraced former Governor Elliot Spitzer.
In 2009 he ran as the incumbent to remain Nassau County executive but narrowly lost to a Republican – and losing again by a wider margin in a 2013 rematch.
This time Suozzi is joining a crowded field of gubernatorial candidates seeking to fill the vacuum left by another disgraced former New York governor, Andrew Cuomo.
Among the Democrats vying to lead the Empire State are current Governor Kathy Hochul, who was Cuomo’s lieutenant governor, state Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, who represents a Long Island district adjacent to Suozzi’s, is also mounting a gubernatorial bid.
But on Twitter Saturday, before making his announcement, Suozzi appeared to tout the support of New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams.
‘I will do everything I can to help my friend Mayor-elect [Eric Adams] & the people of NYC succeed. After discussing it with my family, I believe the best way for me to help him and NYC is in elected office. I will announce my plans for the future in the coming days. TY Eric!’ Suozzi wrote.