Former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi said Tuesday that he will run for his old job, setting up a potential rematch with Republican Edward Mangano, who narrowly defeated him in 2009.
Suozzi, 50, who focused on righting Nassau's massive deficits after taking office in 2001 but was turned out during the recession in 2009, revealed his comeback plans in an email to Newsday Tuesday.
But despite high name recognition and nearly $1.1 million in his campaign war chest, Suozzi, a Glen Cove Democrat, does not have a clear path to the Democratic nomination. Roslyn businessman Adam Haber has announced his campaign and loaned himself $2 million, while North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman has established a campaign committee to explore a run.
Suozzi said in his statement that if elected in November, he would restore "fiscal stability" to the county, which is now under the control of a state oversight board; end "irresponsible borrowing and skyrocketing debt"; create jobs and reduce crime.
"For over three years Ed Mangano has presided over the decline of our county," Suozzi wrote. "I've seen the county taken over by a state agency. I've seen the county mismanaged from one man-made crisis after another and I've seen no one even talking about a vision for our future. That's why I am running for Nassau County Executive."
Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said Nassau voters "threw Tom Suozzi out of office for hiking property taxes by double digits and placing an energy tax on the backs of every homeowner in Nassau. Four years does not erase Tom Suozzi's legacy of taxing too high, spending too much and leaving behind an utter mess."
Suozzi for months has denied that he would make another run for county executive, despite public prodding by Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs and a "Let's Convince Tom Suozzi" Facebook page established by the Nassau County Young Democrats. Suozzi will post a video at suozzi2013.com Wednesday announcing his intentions, campaign officials said.
"I am not running," Suozzi said last month. "I am really enjoying my time with my family and my career."
Suozzi, who is of counsel to Harris Beach, a law firm with offices in locations including Manhattan and Uniondale, declined interview requests Tuesday but is expected to speak publicly about his candidacy later this week.
Before his loss, Suozzi had been a fixture in Nassau politics for two decades.
In 2001, Suozzi became only the second Democrat to win the county executive post and he cruised to re-election in 2005. He launched a campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2006, but lost in a primary to Eliot Spitzer, who went on to become governor but resigned in a sex scandal.
In 2009, Suozzi lost the county executive race to Mangano, a Bethpage county legislator, by 386 votes.
Suozzi contended in his statement that his administration reduced crime, produced eight balanced budgets and shrank the size of the county workforce without layoffs.
But Suozzi also conceded mistakes, particularly during his 2009 campaign. "Voters wanted change, and they weren't convinced that I was paying attention," Suozzi said. "I took my 2009 campaign for granted. It was my fault and it will never happen again."
Justin Myers, campaign manager for Haber, said, "Nassau Democrats remember career politician Tom Suozzi's years of scandal, tax hikes, budget deficits and backroom deals . . . Adam Haber is running to stop the waste and cronyism and make Nassau work again for middle class families."
Kaiman's campaigns did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Nassau Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick), who had mulled a run against Mangano, said he would not challenge Suozzi. "If Suozzi is in, then I am out in deference to his hold on Democratic voters, fundraising prowess and my past political support for him," he said.
The race shapes up
Home: Glen Cove
Family: Married with three children
Education: Chaminade High School; Boston College; Fordham Law School
Occupation: Of-counsel to Harris Beach, a New York law firm
1994-95: Member of Nassau County board of supervisors
1994-2001: Mayor of Glen Cove (job formerly held by his father, Joseph Suozzi, and uncle, Vincent "Jimmy" Suozzi; seat now held by cousin, Ralph Suozzi)
2002-2009: Nassau County executive; lost re-election in 2009 to Republican Edward Mangano, the current county executive.
Other announced or possible Democratic candidates: