Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming of Noyac announced Monday at a press conference in Patchogue that she is running for Congress in 2022.
The Democrat said she had been seriously considering a run ever since she watched “in horror” as the current office holder, U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin of Shirley, voted to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election “even after the Capitol was overtaken by rioters in what can only be described as an act of domestic terrorism and treachery.”
In a demonstration of the key support she has secured toward clinching the Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District race, Ms. Fleming was joined in Patchogue by Suffolk County Democratic Committee Chair Rich Schaffer, Suffolk County Presiding Officer Rob Calarco, Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW President John Durso and a number of town party chairs.
“We need someone who knows how to work with people,” Mr. Durso said, “someone who knows what the truth is, someone who speaks the truth, somebody who will fight for us, somebody who will have Long Island’s interest first and not their own person interests … and that person is Bridget Fleming.”
Ms. Fleming also sought the Democratic nomination for Congress in 2020 and came in third in the primary, behind runner-up Perry Gershon of East Hampton and the ultimate Democratic nominee, Stony Brook University chemistry professor Nancy Goroff of East Hampton, who went on to lose to Mr. Zeldin of Shirley.
In the 2022 election cycle, Ms. Fleming is the first to announce a bid for the Democratic nomination. On the Republican side, Mr. Zeldin, a four-term congressman, has announced a run for New York State governor, so the 1st District seat may be undefended this time around. Still, Ms. Fleming took aim at Mr. Zeldin.
“We Long Islanders can no longer be represented by a congressman so entrenched in personal ideology that he was literally willing to throw democracy out the shattered windows of the Capitol,” Ms. Fleming said. “Lee Zeldin’s participation in the violent insurrection of January 6 was just the latest example in a long chain where Lee Zeldin puts party ahead of people and blind loyalty ahead of building Long Island communities.”
She said the “state of play” has changed — an apparent acknowledgment that Mr. Zeldin will perhaps not the Republican candidate in 2022 — but the foundation of her candidacy has not.
“For the past 10 years that I have been in office, I have always considered the people who put me in office first,” she said.
She cited her opposition to the cap imposed on the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction, her efforts delivering personal protective equipment to frontline workers during the height of the pandemic, and efforts to distribute food to those in need and vaccines.
She said she is a proud Democrat who believes in affordable and accessible health care, a tax system “that doesn’t just benefit those at the top,” the right of a woman to make decisions over her own body, and the right of seniors to collect Social Security and benefit from Medicare.
Pledging to work across the aisle, she said there is no Democratic or Republican way to fix septic systems, roads and bridges, to secure the coastline from climate change and to lift the SALT cap.
Ms. Fleming is a Hunter College graduate and earned a law degree at the University of Virginia School of Law. She was an assistant district attorney in Manhattan from 1991 to 2000 and the managing attorney of the City Bar Pro Bono Project from 2000 to 2001. She them went into private practice and opened her own law office in 2008.
She moved to Noyac in 2001 and entered politics with a run for Southampton Town Council in 2009. Though she came up short in that race, months later she won a Town Council seat in a special election and then went on to win reelection in 2011.
Ms. Fleming was a Democratic nominee for New York State Senate in 2012 but lost to incumbent Republican Senator Kenneth P. LaValle.
In 2015, she successfully ran for Suffolk County legislator and was reelected to that post in 2017 and 2019. She confirmed Monday that she will be on the ballot for county legislator this November, and the petitions are already filed.