Robert Zimmerman, a longtime Democratic National Committee member from Great Neck, said he is running for his party’s nomination in the 3rd Congressional District.
The seat is being vacated by Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) as he runs for governor.
Zimmerman, 67, is co-president of ZE Creative Communications on Bond Street, a public relations firm he began 33 years ago.
According to his campaign, he has received endorsements from a bevy of North Hempstead officials.
If elected, Zimmerman would become the first gay member of Congress from Long Island and Queens.
“I see people being alienated and disconnected from their government and losing faith in the government in every aspect of life,” Zimmerman said. “My life’s work has prepared me for this moment. I’m not a novice.”
Zimmerman previously worked as a congressional aide on Capitol Hill for Congressmen Lester Wolff, James Scheuer and Gary Ackerman. His advocacy has also led to his being nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve on the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Presidential Commission on the Arts and by President Barack Obama to serve on the National Council on the Humanities.
He said the issues he sees as a priority include Medicare for all, women’s reproductive health, supporting Israel, climate change, gun safety and restoring the state and local tax deduction (SALT) on federal taxes, a major focus of Suozzi.
Zimmerman also says that he is part of a “new generation” of candidates that will not accept corporate PAC contributions.
Former North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth and current council members Veronica Lurvey and Peter Zuckerman have endorsed Zimmerman.
“With immense government knowledge, decades of experience, and relationships with officials across the country, Robert Zimmerman is uniquely qualified to represent us,” Bosworth said, according to a press release. “A dear friend for many years, Robert is someone I know we can trust to have our back in Congress. He will be there when we need him, and he won’t back down.”
Ex-County Legislator Ellen Birnbaum and retired Councilwoman Lee Seeman have also pledged their support.
“Robert is an intelligent, articulate, and congenial individual who I would be proud to have represent us in Washington, DC,” Birnbaum said. “He is someone who we can count on to do the right thing and bring results to our district.”
Zimmerman joins a race for the Democratic nomination that includes ex-North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman, Nassau County Legislator Joshua Lafazan, Oyster Bay’s Reema Rasool and Melanie D’Arrigo of Port Washington.
George Santos is seeking the Republican nomination.
Regarding the contested field for the June primary, Zimmerman says he is running for office, not against people.
“I’m running on my experience and my record of advocacy for Long Island,” Zimmerman said. “My record of experience working on Capitol Hill and in business have put me in a unique position to understand what the constituents need and what Long Island needs.”
Zimmerman said the campaign is a culmination of his life’s work, standing up for people who were either overlooked or unseen.
“I remember going to a high school educator who told me ‘there are doctors who can make you better,’” Zimmerman said, describing his experience growing up gay. “For a young person to hear that they’re sick is something it’s hard to shake. In many ways, political activism gave me my voice, a sense of mission and purpose in my life.”
Zimmerman said he’s confident in what the campaign will have to offer and events and fundraisers will be announced soon.
The 3rd Congressional District incorporates Nassau’s North Shore and parts of Queens and Suffolk counties. Later this year, legislators will announce reshaped congressional districts that may affect the district.
“Whether it’s veterans, who are our national treasure, middle-class families trying to balance the pressures of everyday living or our senior citizens, people in our communities deserve a member of Congress that they can trust to have their back,” Zimmerman said. “I will be that congressman.”
A previous version of this story was published. It has since been updated.