Long Island Democrat Thomas Suozzi on Tuesday announced a bid to retake his former congressional seat now held by scandal-plagued Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), joining a growing number of candidates vying for the seat amid speculation that Santos could be forced out of office.
Suozzi said Tuesday that he’s filing a committee to run for Congress next year and that he will launch a formal campaign after local elections in November.
“The madness in Washington, DC, and the absurdity of George Santos remaining in the United States Congress is obvious to everyone,” Suozzi said in a statement on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter.
Suozzi held New York’s 3rd Congressional District seat for three terms, defeating Santos when he first ran in 2020.
Suozzi gave up his congressional seat to launch a bid for governor last year but lost to incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul (D). Before serving in Congress, Suozzi was Nassau County’s executive and mayor of Glen Cove, N.Y.
Last week, the Santos campaign’s former bookkeeper, Nancy Marks, pleaded guilty to making false statements, obstructing federal campaign regulators, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with the congressman’s fraud and money-laundering indictment.
Santos was charged in May with a number of financial crimes over allegations that he defrauded campaign donors by misusing funds and lied about his work status to get unemployment benefits he wasn’t entitled to during the pandemic. He is also accused of falsifying information on required financial paperwork submitted to the House of Representatives.
The freshman legislator, who announced his bid for reelection in April, has denied all charges.
The congressman’s scandals earned him a national reputation when it was revealed that he’d made an astonishing number of false claims about his background and qualifications while seeking office.
Suozzi has been a longtime critic of Santos. In an op-ed for the New York Times shortly before Santos was sworn into office in January, Suozzi called his successor “a con man.” He called for Santos’s removal from office “by Congress or by prosecutors, because there is no indication that he will be moved by conscience to voluntarily resign.”
Some of the other Democratic contenders seeking Santos’s seat include Democratic fundraiser Zak Malamed, former N.Y. state senator Anna Kaplan and Josh Lafazan, a member of the Nassau County legislature.
In statements Tuesday, both Malamed and Kaplan criticized Suozzi for leaving his congressional seat to run for governor.
“The last time Tom Suozzi represented this district, he decided to leave and launch a long-shot gubernatorial campaign — paving the way for George Santos,” Malamed said. “Voters on Long Island know better than to give him a second chance when he comes crawling back after cashing in as a lobbyist.”
Suozzi joined Actum, a consulting firm, as the company’s co-chair in February. A news release announcing his arrival at the consulting firm said Suozzi would be providing “strategic advice to clients and the firm’s executive team” and explicitly noted that as a former member of Congress, he is barred from lobbying the U.S. House and Senate for two years.
Kaplan said Suozzi “thinks voters on Long Island have forgotten that he abandoned us to George Santos.”
Santos also faces a handful of Republican primary challengers, including investment banker and Afghanistan war veteran Kellen Curry, former New York Police Department detective Mike Sapraicone, and former Israel Defense Forces member Daniel Norber.
Shayna Jacobs and Isaac Stanley-Becker contributed to this report.