Albany Agenda

Absolutely everyone is claiming responsibility for Tom Suozzi’s victory

Labor unions, the governor, progressives and national political action committees are all saying they were instrumental in flipping the seat.

Suozzi supporters celebrate at his election night party in Woodbury.

Suozzi supporters celebrate at his election night party in Woodbury. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Tom Suozzi’s victory in the 3rd Congressional District special election on Tuesday electrified Democrats across the nation. (Whether his race is truly a bellwether is debatable.) After the fact, numerous groups touted their own role in the Glen Cove Democrat’s successful flip of the district over Republican nominee Mazi Melesa Pilip. Canvassing and overall support for Suozzi’s campaign to some groups was a worthy reason to proclaim: “We did it.”

The number of groups claiming a portion of success and in some cases, giving little credit to Suozzi, speaks to an increased focus on New York’s role in Congress as the win narrows the Republican majority. Additionally, the reactions signal a galvanized left looking to unify after an important victory – even if their candidate was openly critical of some Democratic policies on crime and immigration. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is co-leading efforts in New York to win back the House, also took time on Wednesday to tout her efforts, despite not appearing with Suozzi on the campaign trail once. “I have raised him money, I have given him resources, I have called him almost daily to shape and talk about what we need to do,” Hochul told reporters at an unrelated press conference in Manhattan. She emphasized her role in calling out Republican members of Congress for rejecting a border and immigration deal agreed to in the Senate. 

Battleground New York, a coalition of labor unions, activists and organizations, touted their overall logistical and on-the-ground support of Suozzi’s campaign as well as their spending in the race totaling over $700,000. According to a memo they released following his victory over Pilip, they were crucial to his victory. “As a result of this quick work, Battleground New York was instrumental in flipping NY-3 for Tom Suozzi,” it read. 

The House Majority PAC highlighted their $7.2 million spend in the race and their overall efforts in support of flipping the district. In a Wednesday statement, the PAC only mentioned Suozzi once while describing its plan of attack and overall success. “Last night,” it said, “House Democrats flipped New York’s 3rd Congressional District.” 

The Asian American Pacific Islander PAC also spoke of its efforts to flip the district at a time when voters from those communities felt left behind politically, tying Pilip to extreme Republican policies. 

“While results are still trickling in, one thing is clear: Investment in communicating to Asian American voters is how Democrats win in NY-03 – and all across the country,” said Linh Nguyen, executive vice president of the AAPI Victory Fund, in a statement Tuesday. “We were proud to spearhead this effort to communicate to voters in a nuanced, culturally competent way and help turn out the vote for Tom Suozzi.”

New York State United Teachers, the largest teachers union in the state, released a statement highlighting their voter drive efforts, also that they braved a Long Island snowstorm to do so. “In the midst of a winter snowstorm, NYSUT members came out in force for Congressman-elect Tom Suozzi,” NYSUT President Melinda Person said in a statement. “Their hard work has paid off and their voices have been heard.”

The 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East labor union noted its efforts canvassing the district on behalf of Suozzi and delivering his platform to voters. The union went so far as contextualizing their effort, along with other coalition partners, as historically significant. “We are so proud of 1199SEIU members’ effort to carry this message to voters of NY-03 alongside our coalition partners in Battleground NY – the largest grassroots field campaign in modern New York history,” it said in a statement. 

Indivisible, a progressive political organizing organization, also spoke to its wide-ranging outreach efforts, including an early voting drive, and expressed optimism about future races in New York this cycle. 

“This victory could not have been possible without the support of Indivisible with Engage Long Island who hit the ground running as soon as the special election date was set,” Indivisible co-founder Ezra Levin said in a statement. “After months of accountability work against Santos, they jumped into this race headfirst to talk to their neighbors about the need to defeat Mazi Pilip’s dangerous anti-democracy, anti-abortion agenda.”

Progressive community organizing outfit Make the Road New York said “Our members delivered” in an X post a few hours before polls closed on Tuesday, trumpeting their get out the vote efforts in the district between on the ground canvassing and voter outreach via advertising, phone calls and texts. 

Youth-centered political outreach group Youth Save Democracy wrote “We did it,” on X, highlighting their time in the district canvassing voters. “Last night, our efforts paid off,” it wrote. “This is just the beginning. We are investing in key battleground districts across America to flip the House blue.”

Suozzi’s victory was an important district flip for Democrats in a part of New York that has seen Republicans consolidate their power but for many of these groups, the win goes beyond that. The 3rd Congressional District, some said, was just the first of many districts to flip from red to blue in New York and a sign of things to come.