The field of candidates running for governor of New York grew more crowded Monday with the entry of U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi into the race.
Suozzi, a former Nassau County executive, is the second moderate Democrat to enter the fray after incumbent Kathy Hochul. As things now stand, Suozzi will square off in the June primary against Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams – the latter two candidates are viewed as running to the left of both Hochul and Suozzi.
Dr. Lee Miringoff, professor of political science and director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, told Capital Tonight that the race for the Democratic nomination is going to be bruising.
“It’s not just geography and it’s not just ideology, or downstate-upstate," Miringoff said. "There’s gender here. Kathy Hochul, first woman governor. Tish James would be the first woman Black governor. There’s a race factor in New York City and upstate. There’s also a sense of incumbency versus challengers."
As for the newest member of the group, Suozzi has a good story to tell about successfully fighting to raise the cap on the SALT deduction — something that is despised on Long Island and the New York City suburbs.
He’s also one of two Democratic candidates in the race with executive experience — the other being Kathy Hochul.
According to Miringoff, while Suozzi and Hochul have significant differences, referring to race and geography, they may attract some of the same moderate voters.
“In terms of the ideology of being a moderate or more progressive, in terms of where the Democrats are pointing right now, I think [Suozzi and Hochul] will be positioned fairly similarly on that left-right continuum,” he said.
During his pre-taped announcement, Suozzi describes himself as a "common-sense Democrat" focused on cutting taxes and reducing crime. He also mentions giving “judges the power to take violent offenders off the streets," which is a reference to the bail reform law which became the central theme of several successful Republican campaigns on Long Island this past November.