• November 20, 2019
  • Welcome!
    Logout|My Dashboard

Queens Chronicle

9/11 firefighter is challenging Suozzi

LI lawyer, a Dem, would be first openly gay Congress member for New York City

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2019 10:30 am

Can Michael Weinstock become the first openly gay person to represent New York City in Congress?

That depends on whether the Democrat can unseat Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Nassau, Queens, Suffolk) in their June 2020 primary.

A Great Neck, LI-based attorney, Weinstock prosecuted sex crimes for the Kings County District Attorney’s Office before entering private practice.

He became a volunteer firefighter at age 18. When terror struck on Sept. 11, 2001, he hailed an ambulance in Brooklyn and rushed to the World Trade Center, where he would spend days clearing debris and rubble with other firefighters.

“I’ve been tested in really tough environments and people know that I’m on my game and I’m smart,” Weinstock told the Chronicle. “I can get the job done and I’m able to find common ground with people of all sorts of backgrounds.”

Suozzi’s district runs from the North Shore in Suffolk County through Nassau and into northeast Queens, covering the neighborhoods of Bay Terrace, Douglaston, Glen Oaks, Little Neck and Whitestone.

While a native and resident of Great Neck, Weinstock has ties to Queens. He graduated from the St. John’s University School of Law and lived for a time in Fresh Meadows.

Although no democratic socialist, Weinstock intends to run to Suozzi’s left.

The congressman is a centrist who has the title of vice chairman in the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers focused on promoting compromise.

He took issue with how, late last year, his opponent and other Democrats in the PSC held out their support for Nancy Pelosi (D-California) in her bid to return as House speaker unless she agreed to certain rules changes intended to decentralize the majority’s power.

“It’s the Fakakta Caucus,” Weinstock said. “That’s the Yiddish word for ‘all upside down.’”

Suozzi voted yes last year on a symbolic 2018 Republican-crafted resolution in support of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Weinstock said that, were he in the House and a symbolic resolution in favor of abolishing ICE was on the floor, he would vote for it.

The challenger is highly critical of the agency’s practice of arresting immigrants at courthouses. By doing so, the former prosecutor said, ICE makes it less likely that undocumented immigrants will “cooperate with police and certainly court officials.”

The challenger also said that he is supportive of single-payer healthcare, though he has reservations about its implementation, citing concerns he’s heard from union members about the issue.

Part of the reason why Weinstock is running against the congressman is deeply personal.

Last year, Suozzi wrote a letter of support to a federal judge imploring her to be merciful to ex-North Hempstead Democratic Party boss Gerard Terry upon his sentencing for tax evasion.

“Dozens” of other public officials and area leaders reached out to the court for the same reason, according to Newsday.

Months after the sentencing, Weinstock went public with allegations charging that when he was young and getting involved in Democratic politics, Terry — then a highly influential figure — propositioned him for sex.

Responding to Weinstock’s remarks, a Suozzi spokesperson noted that the congressman, despite being the only one targeted by the challenger, is only one name on a long list of electeds who wrote a letter for Terry. Nor did he ever hire the now-disgraced Democratic leader.

“Congressman Suozzi is focused on trying to solve problems and delivering for his constituents and district, including tens of millions for environmental protection and clean up and for veterans,” the spokesperson said. “Politically motivated baseless attacks we will ignore.”

It’s still early in the race, but Weinstock is at a steep fundraising disadvantage. According to the Federal Election Commission, he has just $1,815 in campaign cash on hand. Suozzi has $1.14 million of it.

More about

Welcome to the discussion.