The race for the Democratic nomination for governor mirrors the split within the Democratic Party in New York: U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi and Gov. Kathy Hochul are on the moderate end of the spectrum, while Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams are on the progressive end.
Not surprisingly, in an interview with Capital Tonight, Suozzi took aim at Hochul.
“Really, my record is dramatically different than Kathy Hochul’s,” Suozzi said. “She hasn’t really had that executive experience up until this point. I also have a different ideology. I’m a ‘Common Sense Democrat.' I’m not going to pander to the left. I’m not going to pander to the right.”
Suozzi touted his resume, which includes experience as both an attorney and a certified public accountant. Additionally, he has executive experience as both the former mayor of Glen Cove and former county executive of Nassau County, which he noted is larger than several U.S. states.
“[Hochul] has a very unusual record. Historically she’s had a very far right record in some instances and now she has a left record. I’m not sure which is it really,” he said.
One key difference between Hochul and Suozzi may be on criminal justice issues.
Whereas Hochul recently signed “Less is More” legislation, which prevents recently paroled prisoners from being re-incarcerated on technical violations, Suozzi appears to be more interested in fighting crime, which he has placed at the top of his to-do list after cutting taxes.
Bail reform will likely be his first target.
“I’m specifically going to try to get a law passed in New York state that gives the power to judges to take violent offenders off the street,” he said in response to a question about whether he would roll back bail reform.
When it was pointed out that progressives in the state Legislature would push back on that change, Suozzi acknowledged that his position may not be popular with some lawmakers.
“We understand the idea of the inequities that exist between rich and poor in bail for non-violent offenders. But we need to give judges the power, the discretion to look at the entire case and say, ‘you know what? Based upon the entire case, this person is a danger to society.'"
In the past, legislators fighting for cashless bail have countered that there is systemic racism even within the judiciary.
Suozzi stated that systemic racism can be found throughout society.
“Somebody gets pulled over for a DWI, which is non-violent offense, but you look at their record and they have a tremendous history of violent offenses. The judge has to look at the totality of the circumstances and make sure that dangerous person isn’t put back on the streets,” he said.
Another difference between Suozzi and the other Democratic candidates running for New York’s top job is that the congressman had some kind words for former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“You can criticize the [former] governor for a lot of things, but every single day he was in Albany giving briefings to people, meeting with his health commissioner and others and laying out a plan,” Suozzi said.