Dec. 1, 2021 — Turning down NYC Mayor-Elect Eric Adams’ offer of becoming one of the city’s deputy mayors, Long Island US Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) instead announced Monday that he is joining the fast-growing Democratic primary for governor.
Already in the statewide race is the new incumbent, Gov. Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Tish James, and NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. On the Republican side, Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is clearly the leading candidate for his party’s gubernatorial nomination, having already clinched the official New York Republican Party endorsement.
This is not the first time Suozzi has run for governor. In the 2006 Democratic primary, ill-fated, then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer crushed Suozzi, 82-18 percent.
The Suozzi strategy is to take advantage of a crowded Democratic field where the other participants are all campaigning to the left. Therefore, he is calling himself the “moderate, common sense Democrat.” In a plurality election, his strategy has a chance of being successful, but the bigger question may revolve around whether he will have adequate resources to effectively communicate his message to a statewide electorate in order to develop such a fractured winning coalition.
With Rep. Suozzi foregoing re-election, it creates an additional open Democratic US House seat, a number that has grown significantly in the past two weeks, and also potentially alters the New York redistricting process.
Suozzi was first elected to the House in 2016 and twice re-elected, but failed to reach 60 percent in any of his congressional campaigns. Prior to his service in Congress, Suozzi held the Nassau County Executive position for two terms but was defeated when trying for a third. Four years later, in 2013, trying to regain his lost position, Suozzi was again defeated, this time by a strong 59-41 percent margin. Before winning his countywide position, Suozzi was twice elected as mayor of his hometown of Glen Cove, NY.
Suozzi’s 3rd Congressional District sits in Long Island’s center-west sector, hugging the north shore. The four districts that are self-contained on Long Island are a combined 148,780 people short of meeting the per-district population quota of 776,971 individuals in each of the state’s 26 congressional districts.
With Rep. Zeldin leaving his eastern 1st District and now Suozzi departing the 3rd, map drawers will have the opportunity of potentially collapsing the 1st and 2nd District into one safe Republican seat for Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Sayville). This would allow them to disperse Democrats from the current Zeldin and Garbarino seats, thus increasing the party’s strength in both Suozzi’s open 3rd District and for Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) in the 4th CD.
This draw would cost the Republicans one seat and create a population swing from Long Island moving toward New York City to feed many of its urban districts. Of the dozen congressional seats covering the metropolis, eight require an influx of additional residents. The city districts need an aggregate 73,660 more people to meet the regional population requirement.
New York is a critically important state for the national Democratic redistricting strategy. It appears to be one of only two states, Illinois being the other, where they can convert multiple Republican seats, and the described Long Island situation figures prominently into their national strategy.
The Suozzi announcement now moves the House open seat count to 34, including the 10 seats that national reapportionment and redistricting have created. Seven seats, once all of redistricting is completed, will be eliminated from the states where they currently lie. From the aggregate 34 opens, a total of 24 sitting incumbents are not seeking re-election.
This count does not include the FL-20 seat that is in a special election cycle. That district will be filled in the January 11th special general election.
Of the 24 incumbents either retiring or attempting to seek another elective office, 15 are Democrats while nine are Republican. Four of the seven lost seats can be reasonably determined at this point, and two come from each party. An additional three incumbents, all Democrats (Reps. Lucy McBath (GA), Marie Newman (IL), and Vicente Gonzalez (TX)), are again running for the House, but in districts other than the ones they currently represent.