The primary challenge rankled Hochul, and she huddled privately with Suozzi in Albany earlier this week to clear the air and discuss campaign strategy.
“I wanted to talk to him directly about what his plan was and how he would run his race,” Hochul told reporters at an unrelated news conference in the Bronx on Wednesday.
The meeting included a discussion over polling and strategy so Democrats can “run the strongest possible candidate” to replace Santos, she said.
Republicans knocked Suozzi’s conciliatory approach with Hochul, who has registered low job approval ratings in public polling.
“Given that voters are already fed up with her handling of crime and the migrant crisis, Tom Suozzi prostrating himself for Kathy Hochul is bound to end poorly for him,” Savannah Viar, a spokesperson for the House GOP’s campaign committee said.
Democrats are trying to demonstrate a united front. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries praised the selection as someone with “a proven record of results.”
And Democratic candidates also sought to coalesce around Suozzi.
Party leaders passed over Suozzi’s remaining rival, former state Sen. Anna Kaplan, who had announced her campaign for the seat earlier this year. She endorsed Suozzi in a statement soon after the nomination was announced.
Republicans are expected to announce their candidate in the coming days. Party leaders have insisted they will conduct a rigorous vetting process when screening candidates after the Santos fiasco of his lies about his life experiences.
Already there have been questions raised about the backgrounds of some of the potential nominees.
Records show Nassau County Legislator Mazi Pilip, elected on the GOP line, enrolled as a Democrat. Another candidate, Mike Sapraicone, recounted a story in April on a podcast that he found a person scary because they were Black.
State Sen. Jack Martins, attorney Greg Hache and Air Force veteran Kellen Curry are also considered potential nominees.
Santos, who has acknowledged fabricating large swaths of his biography was ejected from Congress in an expulsion push backed by his fellow Republican first-term lawmakers.
He faces nearly two dozen federal fraud counts and a House Ethics Committee report in November concluded he deceived donors and likely broke campaign finance laws.
Out of office, Santos joined Cameo, charging $400 for a personalized video. He has also taunted his former colleagues since his expulsion.
On X, formerly Twitter, Santos knocked the process to replace him.
“The level of corruption is so insane that this is what they wanted … remove me the most conservative member of the NY delegation and replace me with another Dem or RINO,” he wrote.