Biaggi to make congressional bid for newly drawn and crowded 3rd district

State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi formally announced her bid for U.S. Congress on Monday in what is already shaping up to be a crowded field of candidates.
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Add two-term state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi’s name to the crowded primary for the open congressional seat in state’s third district, which was just redistricted to include the Bronx and Westchester last week.

The popular Pelham Progressive with several prominent Westchester Democrats in line to endorse her hopes to bring “bolder” leadership to Washington, D.C.

“Our country doesn’t just need more Democrats in Washington, we need bolder ones. I am running for Congress in NY-3 to bring progressive and honest leadership to the frontlines of our country’s most important fights. Hard working families of Westchester, Long Island, the Bronx, and Queens deserve an experienced, strong, and fearless leader in Washington,” she announced in a statement on Monday. “And that’s exactly what they can expect from me.”

Biaggi’s political careered has been littered with major victories — toppling one-time Democratic leader and political heavyweight state Sen. Jeff Klein in a primary for her current seat in 2018 — and she could be well-positioned to add to a rise in the state’s progressive political representation as well as center climate change as a solution for shoreline communities in a district that now spans five counties and both sides of the Long Island Sound. Biaggi’s current senatorial district includes portions of Westchester and the Bronx.

“As the Representative of the Sound, I will work to combat climate change and protect our shorelines, expand voting rights, enact universal pre-K to support working parents, provide opportunity and relief for the middle class, protect abortion rights, ensure public safety and a fair criminal legal system, and deliver affordable healthcare for all,” said Biaggi, the granddaughter of former longtime Congressman Mario Biaggi. “Together, we delivered progressive change on these issues in Albany, and it is time to bring our energy and resolve to Washington.”

So far six Long Island Democrats, including Democratic superdelegate Robert Zimmerman, Nassau County Legislator Joshua Lafazan, former North Hempstread Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman, Melanie D’Arrigo, Nayjot Kaut and Reema Rasool, have announced bids for the seat currently held by U.S. Tom Suozzi, a moderate Democrat forgoing the seat to run in a primary for governor this year.

“I do believe that the progressive movement in New York will continue to grow,” said Karen Young, a redistricting expert from #DrawDemocracy. “Progressive champions were able to win in districts gerrymandered against them in 2018 and 2020, and more candidates are popping up all the time. My hope is that before the next cycle, New Yorkers will come together to win a truly independent redistricting process.”

New York’s newly drawn congressional districts transformed the Third Congressional District into a political seat that spans five counties and a diverse set of interests, as well as a seat Biaggi would not have challenged for prior to the new Democrat-drawn lines being approved by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday.

“This district having historically been (until this last redistricting) a tiny sliver of Queens, Nassau, Suffolk but that takes in the Bronx and Westchester, you’re talking about a much wider universe of candidates running for this seat,” said Jake Delimani, a Democratic political strategist. “Obviously, Biaggi would have never been a candidate for this district based on old lines, and she represents a small slice of the district. She’s a formidable candidate.”

Delmani added that Zimmermann, a longtime Democratic leader from Great Neck, has also put together a formidable campaign, wrapping up endorsement from key union labors.

One Republican source involved in the state Republican Party’s lawsuit contesting the newly-drawn maps in state Supreme Court believes the Democrats created an unfair advantage in the First Congressional District, a Long Island district that now includes a heavy-blue New York City suburbs, and the aforementioned third district which dips into the Bronx and Westchester.

A GOP candidate is expected to be announced during the party’s nominating convention later this month at the Garden City Hotel.

This story was updated on Feb. 11. A previous version of this article listed Alessandra Biaggi as the daughter of Mario Biaggi.

Reach Robbie Sequeira at [email protected] or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.