Former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi of New York is telling political leaders and wealthy donors that he is considering running for his old seat held by embattled Republican Rep. George Santos, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.
Suozzi has spoken with officials including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and New York Democratic Committee Chair Jay Jacobs about the prospect of launching a 2024 campaign for a district he represented for almost five years, according to those familiar with the conversations.
“He certainly is giving it consideration. I don’t think he’s made his mind up by any means,” Jacobs, who is also the chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Committee, told CNBC when asked about his discussions with Suozzi. The congressional seat is largely located in Nassau County.
A Suozzi advisor told CNBC that “Tom has been approached by Hakeem, Jay and many others in D.C.”
“He is open to it, but nothing is going to happen unless Santos leaves office and there is a special election, or possibly 2024,” the advisor said. If Santos stepped down — which he has insisted he will not do — it could trigger a special election before next year’s general election.
Suozzi in recent months has started meeting with wealthy donors in New York, including those in the influential real estate industry, other sources noted.
A spokesman for Jeffries did not return a request for comment. Suozzi did not return a request for comment. Those who declined to be named in this story did so in order to speak freely about private deliberations.
Suozzi’s potential entry into the race would give Democrats an experienced candidate as they try to leverage the issues swirling around Santos to flip a seat in New York, a state that helped propel Republicans to their House majority. Santos, embroiled in a furor over lies and embellishments about key parts of his resume, has repeatedly said he will not resign, and instead let voters decide his fate.
The New York lawmaker filed a statement of candidacy for the 2024 election cycle with the Federal Election Commission, but has not officially declared whether he will run for reelection.
Suozzi was first elected in 2016 to represent New York’s 3rd Congressional District, which in its current form stretches from parts of Long Island to some of Queens. He left Congress to run for governor of New York, losing in the Democratic primary to Gov. Kathy Hochul. He most recently has served as a co-chair at consulting firm Actum.
Santos got elected during the 2022 midterms, in part by selling his inflated resume to voters. Local Republican officials in New York have since called for Santos to resign.
The House Ethics Committee has launched an investigation into Santos, and appointed a subcommittee to probe him for potential ethical violations. Santos has also been ensnared in a wide range of other local and federal probes.
Suozzi himself faced an Ethics Committee investigation for his stock trades, but last year the panel unanimously voted to dismiss the referrals.
Suozzi weighed in on Santos’ conduct earlier this year. The ex-New York congressman wrote an op-ed in The New York Times ripping Santos and hinting that voters in the district would be open to an alternative in 2024.
“I also know the voters of the Third District pretty well; they believe in the rule of law, in playing by the rules. They like authenticity in their leaders and pride themselves on having a good BS detector,” Suozzi wrote in January. “I am certain that if the Third District’s voters have an opportunity to weigh in on his political future again, he will be gone.”
Suozzi defeated Santos during his last run for Congress in 2020. He has name recognition and is a prolific fundraiser, which could make him a frontrunner in a Democratic primary for Santos’ seat. Democratic businessman Robert Zimmerman, who lost to Santos in 2022, has not ruled out running again for the seat.
During Suozzi’s last run for Congress in 2020, he raised just under $3 million, according to data from the nonpartisan OpenSecrets. Donors from the real estate business were Suozzi’s top contributors that cycle, giving $270,000 to his campaign.