Sauberman leaves Congressional race over health concerns

Sauberman leaves Congressional race over health concerns
Josh Sauberman of Syosset, former candidate for the Third Congressional District. (Photo courtesy of Josh for NY)

Joshua Sauberman, an independent candidate for the 3rd Congressional District, announced Tuesday that he was dropping out of the race due to health concerns.

“I am incredibly disappointed that I will not be on the ballot this November,” Sauberman wrote in a letter posted on his Twitter page. “However, the recurrence of cancer now precludes my continued participation.”

Sauberman ran first as a Democrat for the seat occupied by Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) before switching to independent in April.

When Sauberman announced his candidacy in February, he said that his fight against metastatic prostate cancer — and the insurance companies who denied him coverage, claiming it was a pre-existing condition — inspired him to take an active role in politics.

That was nine years ago.

In the meantime, Sauberman helped to raise funds for several documentary films. His candidacy for the 3rd Congressional District was his first time running for office.

During an event at SUNY Westbury in March, he experienced an episode of aphasia, which limited his ability to speak.

At the end of April, he has diagnosed with grade 3 astrocytoma in his orbitofrontal cortex. He wrote in his letter that he delayed treatment due to the deaths of two family members. When he began his recovery process this summer, he realized that he could not do his therapy and run for office at the same time.

“I have conceded to prioritize my physical health above all else,” he wrote.

In his letter, Sauberman returned to an issue he brought up many times on the campaign trail: that the United States needed a single-payer healthcare system.

He wrote that his treatment — which includes external radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and possibly chemotherapy — will cost anywhere from $14,000 to $37,000.

“This country is one where cancer patients are forced to pay thousands of dollars for their health care,” he said.

Despite his illness, Sauberman promised to keep fighting for single-payer health care, better schools, and improved infrastructure. He added that he would run for Congress again.

“Hopefully I’m still around next year,” he said. “If I am, I will run again because my opponent [Suozzi] will not be moved… I will stay involved, even if I am sick.”

Before switching parties, Sauberman was the only Democrat challenging Suozzi for the party’s nomination.

He said Jay Jacobs, chairman of the Nassau County Democrats, constantly threw up roadblocks for him. He repeatedly criticized Suozzi for his stance on immigration and refusal to back single-payer healthcare.

“I want my short-sighted, egotistical coward of a Congressman to know that his hair-shaving publicity stunt did nothing to prevent my cancer from recurring,” he wrote.

Despite his frustrations with politics in Nassau, Sauberman said that he did have reasons for optimism in the future of American politics.

He said the victory of Bronx resident Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the Democratic primary demonstrated that there was an appetite for progressive policies beyond what the mainstream Democratic Party is pushing.

“It was not a monolith of Latinos that came out to vote for her… she had a message that was a winning message,” he said.

With Sauberman out of the race, Suozzi’s only challenger is Republican Dan DeBono. At the conclusion of his letter, Sauberman wrote that he hopes neither is victorious.

“As I prepare to exit stage left, I want to impart one thing I’ve learned from this process,” he wrote at the end of his letter. “Aspiring to run for Congress is a sure sign you have brain cancer.”

Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at [email protected], by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.

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