NEW YORK — Democrat Tom Suozzi Tuesday won the endorsement of a major abortion rights group and pushed for restoration of the SALT tax deduction in his fight to flip the Long Island seat previously held by his disgraced successor ex-Rep. George Santos.
Suozzi, a moderate who has at times been seen as a less than 100% pro-choice voice, won the backing of Reproductive Freedom for All in the Feb. 13 special election against Republican Mazi Melesa Pilip.
“With the very real threat of a nationwide abortion ban looming, we must elect Tom Suozzi to this crucial seat to fight back,” Mini Timmaraju, the group’s leader, told Politico.
The endorsement could boost Suozzi’s efforts to drum up core Democratic constituencies to back him in the tricky midwinter election.
Pilip, a mother of seven, says she is strongly pro-life but opposes a nationwide ban on abortion. She has dodged questions about where she stands on specific Republican proposals like a ban on the procedure after 15 weeks or after six weeks, before many women know they are even pregnant.
Democrats from coast to coast have successfully run on the issue of protecting a woman’s right to choose since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, triggering a wave of anti-abortion laws and proposals across the country.
Suozzi needs to shore up his support from pro-choice voters. He endured criticism from progressives during his previous stint in Congress for his record opposing so-called partial birth abortion and reluctance to rolling back restrictions on Medicaid funding for abortions.
The endorsement came as Suozzi separately laid out his plans to push for a reinstatement of the federal deduction for state and local taxes, known as SALT.
The former three-term representative boasted of being one of the leading proponents in Congress of keeping the deduction, which disproportionately benefits middle-class homeowners and taxpayers in high-tax states like New York, during his previous stint in Congress.
“We have to build a bipartisan coalition to restore SALT,” Suozzi told reporters Tuesday. “That’s how I passed SALT restoration in the past. I’m not just saying I’ll do it. I’ve done it.”
The deduction was capped at $10,000 as part of former President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cut package, which critics deride as a giveaway to the wealthy and big corporations.
Many New York Democrats and Republicans back reinstating the full deduction although some progressives and many MAGA conservatives consider it a boon for wealthy suburban homeowners.
Suozzi and Democratic allies are so far dramatically outspending Pilip and Republicans in the fight for the swing seat, which could offer clues to the overall political climate as the presidential campaign unfolds.
Pilip confirmed to Politico that she remains a registered Democrat and has no plans to enroll in the GOP at least until after the election. She refuses to say if she supports Trump’s presidential bid or if she voted for him last time.
Santos, who was expelled from Congress last year, is awaiting trial on a string of federal fraud and theft charges. He says he has no plans to vote in the special election.