Next Tuesday’s Democratic gubernatorial primary pits three dedicated public servants against one another — Gov. Kathy Hochul, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi and New York City public advocate Jumaane Williams.
We don’t typically endorse at the primary level — or at the gubernatorial level. But then again, Suozzi is not a typical candidate. Not only is he from Long Island; he’s also from Nassau County — an important distinction from Hochul and Williams. He understands the needs of Long Island communities and wants to make sure those needs are not overlooked.
His past three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives have demonstrated that he is a moderate Democrat who is willing to work across the aisle.
New York is a diverse state in myriad ways, including political ideologies, and Suozzi’s views and values serve a wide range of voters, ensuring that he would be a formidable candidate in the general election. With the state and country more divided than ever, we need a governor who does not play to the extremes of either party, which would only serve to alienate millions of New Yorkers.
As a member of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee, Suozzi secured New York’s fair share of federal pandemic aid funds. His executive experience in Nassau County — one of the largest and most complicated municipalities in the country — prepared him well for the governor’s mansion.
Most important, during his time as county executive, Suozzi — who is both an attorney and a certified public accountant — reversed years of fiscal mismanagement. The current economic environment will require a deft manager of state finances, and we are confident that Suozzi would do this while balancing the need to make New York a more affordable place both to live and to conduct business.
Hochul should be applauded for hitting the ground running last year, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned in disgrace. However, we’re not sure that Hochul understands, or will prioritize, the needs of Long Islanders. The home region of a governor can certainly stand to benefit from having a native son or daughter in Albany.
Case in point: the sweetheart deal Hochul brokered for a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills, in her home territory. The behind-closed-doors deal provides $1 billion in state funding for the stadium — the largest municipal aid package in the history of the National Football League — to support the upstate economy.
Furthermore, before Hochul’s time in Albany, in her one term as a member of Congress, she received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, from which she also accepted campaign contributions. She has since insisted that her views on guns have “evolved,” and that she now supports much-needed sensible gun regulation.
Hochul says that her previous stance on guns was simply representing the views of the people in her rural district. But one can be pro-Second Amendment without aligning herself with an organization that opposes common-sense gun reform.
That is Suozzi’s position, which, no surprise, earned him an “F” rating from the NRA.
The jury is still out on Hochul’s ability to make the correct choice when it comes to big decisions.
The coronavirus pandemic reminded all of us about the real-world — and sometimes life-or-death — consequences of a governor’s decisions. Yet, arguably Hochul’s biggest decision to date — her appointment of Brian Benjamin as her original lieutenant governor — was nothing short of disastrous, and could have been avoided with proper vetting. Just seven months into his job, Benjamin was indicted on wire fraud, among other charges, and was forced to resign.
Williams, the third candidate in the Democratic race, has a bright future, but does not have the executive experience the state currently needs.
The Herald endorses Tom Suozzi in the Democratic primary for governor.