Tom Suozzi, Democrats’ pick to replace George Santos, took center lane in his 3 House terms
December 31, 2023
By: Laura Figueroa Hernandez and Tom Brune
WASHINGTON — As Democrat Tom Suozzi seeks to reclaim his 3rd Congressional District seat in the Feb. 13 special election against Republican Mazi Melesa Pilip, he’ll have to campaign on and defend his six-year record in the U.S. House.
During his three terms in office from 2017 through 2022, Suozzi cast more than 2,000 votes and backed some 2,000 legislative proposals while serving first on the House Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees and then on the powerful tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Though Suozzi served in an increasingly partisan House, he carved out a political middle ground as a centrist Democrat and vice-chair of the moderate and bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, composed of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans who seek compromises.
“He’s never been a left-leaning progressive Democrat, he’s always been someone who is socially liberal but fiscally moderate,” said Christopher Malone, a political science professor at Farmingdale State University.
Suozzi largely voted the Democratic line but he also often worked and voted with Republicans — UCLA’s VoteView analysis found he was more conservative than 90% of his Democratic colleagues as he hewed closely to the middle lane of the House.
Suozzi often took a more conservative approach than most Democrats on defense, law enforcement and business issues, but he also supported measures on the environment, civil rights and Long Island issues, according to a review of his news releases, legislation and votes.
Suozzi, 61, the scion of a Glen Cove political family, spent eight years as Glen Cove mayor and then eight years as Nassau County executive.
He was shaped by growing up in a Nassau County city that frequently traded control between Democrats and Republicans, said Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University.
“The way you survive there, as his family has functioned for more than a generation, is to be able to find as comfortable a place as possible in the middle. That’s what he’s done, pretty much his whole career,” Levy said. “He is a true pragmatic.”
The winner of the special election will serve out the remainder of expelled Rep. George Santos’ two-year term and would need to run again in November for a full term.
Suozzi was not a prolific filer of legislation.
The House passed just three of the 56 measures introduced by Suozzi: renaming the Oyster Bay Wildlife Refuge for Congressman Lester Wolff, honoring a Black unit in the National Guard with the Harlem Hellfighters Congressional Gold Medal Act and an amendment that authorized funds to help pay for fixing the Northrop Grumman toxic plume in Bethpage.
Suozzi said his brief legislative record does not tell the whole story.
“There’s much more to legislating than just getting a particular bill that your name is on to get it done,” Suozzi said.
“I’ve worked very hard to build relationships,” he said. “The most important thing in a legislative body is to have relationships, so that people trust you and that people feel that they can work with you.”