OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Democrats’ quest of hanging on to a very thin majority in the House during next year’s midterm elections is becoming more difficult as more members decide to retire rather than face a tough reelection prospect.
The latest to choose retirement is Rep. Tom Suozzi of New York, who announced his decision on Monday, dealing another blow to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.
Instead of making another bid for Congress, Suozzi will join an increasingly crowded Democratic primary field in a quest to become New York’s next governor — a race that has blown wide open following the departure of disgraced and now former Gov. Andrew Cuomo amid a plethora of sexual harassment and misconduct findings.
During a virtual news conference, Suozzi told reporters he was leaving.
“I’m a common-sense Democrat. 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,” he said.
“I’ll work with anybody,” he noted further. “It’s not about being politically correct. It’s about doing the correct thing to actually help people.”
— christopher white (@caw111) November 30, 2021
The New York Times adds:
Mr. Suozzi, who has most recently focused on federal negotiations over raising a cap on state and local tax deductions, has positioned himself as a vocal centrist who is quick to lash what he casts as the excesses of his party’s left wing.
His decision to run for governor, which he made official at a virtual news conference, will intensify and complicate the battle for moderate voters in one of the nation’s marquee Democratic primary contests next year.
Suozzi will face off against Gov. Kathy Hochul, who previously served as lieutenant governor and ascended to the governor’s mansion when Cuomo resigned.
The Horn News adds:
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.
While generic polling has Republicans well ahead in the quest for control of Congress next year, Suozzi said that had nothing to do with his decision to run for governor.
“I feel like this whole, you know, left-right extremist thing in our country is killing our country and it’s killing our state,” he told the Times. “I don’t think I could sit on the sidelines and watch what’s happening, watch what’s happening to our state, and not be engaged in an effort to try and bring it forward.”
Republicans, however, disagreed and noted that his seat will be targeted for a pickup.
“Tom Suozzi is making the smart decision to quit Congress rather than lose in 2022,” said Camille Gallo, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
That said, not all Democrats are thrilled that he’s throwing his hat into the ring, as the Times points out:
Jay Jacobs, the chairman of the New York State Democrats and of the party in Nassau County, also chaired Mr. Suozzi’s 2006 bid. He endorsed Ms. Hochul this year and said he recently sent Mr. Suozzi a memo with his assessment of the race.
“I don’t see any path for him to win and his entry into the race can only cost Kathy Hochul some votes,” he said.
But Suozzi confident he can build a winning coalition and cast himself as a risk-taker.
“I’ve shown that I’m willing to risk it all, sometimes with great success and sometimes crashing and burning,” he said. “But I’m willing to risk it all when I see something that needs to be done, and I’m willing to take those chances.”