Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi said Monday that he is not seeking reelection to the House of Representatives, the latest in a series of blows to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s already slim hopes of maintaining Democratic control.
Instead, Suozzi will run for New York governor in next year’s election, joining a competitive Democratic primary race that became wide open when former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned in disgrace.
Suozzi told reporters on a virtual news conference that he’s leaving the House after his term and jumping into the 2022 race.
“I’m a common sense Democrat,” Suozzi said. “I don’t believe it’s about going to the far left or to the far right; it’s about trying to find the answers to the problems that we face.”
The announcement by the 59-year-old congressman from Long Island came days after the U.S. House passed President Joe Biden’s massive $2 trillion government spending bill.
The legislation contains a provision increasing the amount of local taxes high-income earners can deduct from federal taxes, something that disproportionately helps the rich in coastal states like New York and that Suozzi has been fighting for.
Suozzi had said for months he’s been considering a gubernatorial campaign but first wanted to get the tax deduction cap raised in Congress and use that to make his pitch to voters.
The bill passed recently by the House raised the $10,000 cap to $80,000. The tax break for wealthy coastal elites now moves to the Senate, where it could get scaled back.
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Suozzi represents Long Island, including its wealthy north shore, and parts of Queens in New York’s 3rd Congressional District. He survived a tough reelection in 2020, eking out a win in the swing district that tilts slightly toward Democrats.
The open race to replace him will likely be highly contested by both parties. Democrats have a five-vote margin in the House and are expected to lose seats in the midterm elections because of Biden’s unpopularity.
Rather than face another tough GOP challenge in a reelection battle, Suozzi in the governor’s race is expected to be able to draw on his moderate credentials as he faces several primary challengers running to his left.
The Democratic primary race includes Gov. Kathy Hochul, who took office after Cuomo resigned amid sexual harassment allegations; Attorney General Letitia James, whose investigation of the allegations prompted Cuomo’s resignation; and Jumaane Williams, New York City’s elected public advocate.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose term ends this year, has also been hinting that he may enter the race. De Blasio filed paperwork to create a fundraising committee last month.
He has repeatedly said he’d like to continue in public service, and in an appearance recently on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” unveiled a campaign-style state education plan but danced around questions about whether he would run for governor.
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De Blasio, James, and Williams all count on a base of voter support downstate, while Hochul hails from Buffalo in western New York.
Suozzi first drew his first statewide attention in 2004 as a local elected official leading a “Fix Albany” movement to stop the state government from requiring local governments to raise taxes. His effort helped unseat two incumbent state legislators.
Suozzi, an accountant and lawyer, made one run for governor before, in 2006. He lost the Democratic primary to Eliot Spitzer. Like Cuomo, Spitzer later resigned in a sex scandal.
Before he was elected to Congress in 2016, Suozzi served as mayor of Glen Cove from 1994 to 2001, and as Nassau County’s elected executive from 2002 to 2009.
The Associated Press contributed to this article