NEW YORK - It’s been over a year since Governor Kathy Hochul beat Tom Suozzi in the gubernatorial primary, but she apparently has not forgotten the somewhat personal attacks he made against her during the campaign.
And now, as he seeks to replace Santos - Hochul had him come apologize first.
Suozzi used to represent New York’s 3rd Congressional district but left his seat to run against Hochul for governor – leaving open the door for now ex- Congressman George Santos to swoop in.
But now – Suozzi is looking to represent that seat again and needs the Democratic Party to nominate him in the special election on February 13th.
And Hochul is not making it easy for him, vaguely referencing comments he made during the campaign last year that cast doubt on her family’s ethics and her ability to run the state calling her at one time the "interim governor."
"Well he apologized for those characterizations," Hochul said about their conversation.
Special elections in New York require each party to nominate a candidate instead of having a wide open field.
Sources say democrats plan to announce their candidate for Santos’ seat on Thursday, with many saying it will likely be Suozzi.
Political strategist Hank Sheinkopf says Hochul was right to secure this apology.
"She had to make sure that he apologized," Sheinkopf said. "Governor Hochul could not be made to look like a fool."
On the Republican side, sources say that they will likely not announce their candidate until the end of this week or early next week.
According to sources, a top front-runner is Mike Sapraicone, a retired NYPD detective.
However, Sapraicone has reportedly donated more than $39,000 to Suozzi since 2017 and was accused of coercing a false confession – eventually leading the city to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit over the incident.
Sapraicone's campaign says that he has donated to both Republicans and democrats over the years and emphasized that the civil case never went to trial.
"Mr. Sapraicone spent 20 years with the NYPD where he had a stellar career as a First Grade Detective keeping New Yorkers safe," Sapraicone’s campaign said. "He worked to ensure countless violent criminals were arrested, tried by a jury, and held accountable. Mr. Sapraicone worked in a supportive role during that case, in which the civil suit never went to trial."
The other reported frontrunner is Mazi Pilip, a former member of the Israel Defense Forces.
However, despite currently holding office as a republican, Pilip has been enrolled as a Democrat since 2012, according to politico.
Pilip did not respond to a request for comment, but Sheinkopf says, despite all this – Republicans have a hefty edge in this district.
"Suozzi can raise money, and they will raise an awful lot of money. But you know what? So will the Republicans who've gotten essentially unbeaten in Nassau County for a long time now," Sheinkopf said.
In her meeting, Hohcul said she also spoke with Suozzi about strategy and had him pledge he would work with her to get more democrats elected.