Suffolk County Legis. Bridget Fleming announced Monday that she will run again for Congress, becoming the first candidate to launch a bid for the 2022 1st Congressional District race after incumbent Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin announced he will run for governor.
Fleming, 61, of Noyac, announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination in Patchogue Monday evening, surrounded by about two dozen supporters, including legislative colleagues, Democratic Party officials and labor union leaders. Fleming ran for the same seat in 2020 but lost the primary to Stony Brook scientist Nancy Goroff, who unsuccessfully challenged Zeldin in the general election.
Fleming said she decided to run again on Jan. 6, after Zeldin objected to the certification of the 2020 presidential election results following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. "The state of play has changed quite a bit, but the basis of my candidacy has not," she said.
Zeldin, 41, a four-term congressman from Shirley, announced last month that he would run for the governor of New York in 2022. The district comprises eastern Long Island, from parts of Smithtown and Islip to the East End.
Fleming said her "No. 1 priority" is repealing the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, known as the SALT cap. She said she wants to work across the aisle on the coronavirus pandemic, environmental issues, infrastructure projects and health care.
"This is a campaign for Long Island’s future," Fleming said. "This is a campaign of how we want to move forward together."
Suffolk Democratic Chairman Rich Schaffer said the county committee has not voted to back Fleming, but "she’s got a lot of support among the leaders in the party."
Fleming became a county legislator in 2015, after serving for five years on the Southampton Town Board. She previously spent nearly a decade as an assistant district attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where she prosecuted sex crime cases and rose to chief of a unit fighting fraud in public programs.
Fleming, who represents the South Fork, is also running for reelection to her 2nd District county legislative seat this November. She said she entered the congressional race early because "this is going to be an expensive race. We need to spend the time raising the millions to beat the others."
Goroff, the 2020 Democratic nominee, raised $5.6 million and Zeldin raised more than $7.7 million, according to the Federal Election Commission. Fleming raised nearly $900,000 for the June primary and came in third.
Suffolk County Republican Chairman Jesse Garcia said his party is going through the screening process to select a candidate and noted that Fleming "was already rejected by her own party" in the primary.
"We already have the playbook in place" to win, Garcia said.