Former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi on Tuesday announced formation of a fundraising committee to make a bid for Rep. Steve Israel’s congressional seat, but said it is likely he will have to fight for the nomination in a primary.
“I don’t think it’s going to be just one candidate, I think there’s likely to be a primary on the Republican side and Democratic side,” Suozzi said at a press event at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.
Suozzi, 53, who said he was too brash in the past in pursuing his political ambitions, said he does not want to announce his candidacy until he can meet with people in the district, raise money and consider the contest with his family to make sure their “eyes are wide open.”
“The old me would have said this is going to be great, I’m going to dive in,” Suozzi said. Now, he said, “It’s got to make sense that I can actually win this race because the district deserves to have a [Democratic] successor to Steve Israel.”
Israel, a Huntington Democrat, is not seeking re-election in November.
Despite losses to Republican Edward Mangano in the last two Nassau County executive races, Suozzi said that he sees no need to rehabilitate himself with voters or potentially doubtful party leaders. “I have to demonstrate that I’ll work hard and be a good candidate,” he said.
Suozzi’s announcement came a day before a Democratic Party summit at which all 12 Democrats who have expressed interest in the 3rd District seat will meet with Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer and Queens party leader Rep. Joseph Crowley.
Israel will take part as an adviser to party leaders, who say he will play a key role because of his former position as head of the Democrats’ congressional campaign committee.
E. O’Brien Murray, campaign spokesman for state Sen. Jack Martins of Old Westbury, who is seeking the GOP nod for Israel’s seat, said Suozzi raised county property taxes and imposed a tax on home heating fuel.
“It’s the same old Suozzi, no matter what he says,” Murray said.
Suozzi blamed the poor local and national economy when he first raised property taxes in 2009. He proposed the home heating tax that year as part of an emergency budget package that included $12 million in cuts and shortened work hours.
Suozzi described himself Tuesday as a “moderate” and vowed to deliver for the district as well as lead on national issues.