Tom Suozzi, the former Long Island Representative, inaugurated his campaign office in Great Neck, the very heart of his Republican adversary Mazi Pilip’s hometown.
Suozzi is intent on competing for the congressional seat left vacant by the recently ousted George Santos.
Suozzi, a Democrat who has previously served Nassau County and Eastern Queens, is eyeing to gain traction among the more conservative voters in Great Neck for the upcoming special election on Tuesday, February 13.
Suozzi, who had served four terms in the House and also held the position of Nassau County executive, expressed his commitment to the electorate.
“This is a scary time and people don’t know what’s coming next, but they know me and they know I will fight for them,” he stated during the event.
He further emphasized his readiness to collaborate across the aisle, saying, “Not everybody loves to hear this but the people of Nassau and Queens know that I will work with anyone, conservatives, progressives, centrists, Republicans and Democrats, who like me, will work to find common ground and get something done.”
The event, which attracted about 200 attendees, featured figures like state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Queens Representative Grace Meng.
Suozzi, having previously relinquished his congressional seat to unsuccessfully run for governor in the Democratic primary against Governor Kathy Hochul, is now redirecting his political efforts towards the House.
The shift in political winds in Long Island, turning increasingly Republican, reflects a broader national interest in the February 13 special election.
This election is seen as a critical indicator of which party might secure control over the House, where the GOP currently holds a slender majority.
Pilip’s campaign argued that Suozzi would not appeal to voters in her hometown and associated him with the left wing of the Democratic party, which includes Democratic socialist Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“Tom Suozzi can try to pander to voters in Great Neck by opening a headquarters there, but families in Great Neck won’t forget that he joined AOC’s Squad, which embraces an antisemitic and anti-Israel agenda,” commented Pilip campaign spokesman Brian Devine.
Mazi Pilip, an Ethiopian native with a background in the Israeli Defense Services and a current member of the Nassau County Legislature, presents a formidable challenge to Suozzi.
A mother of seven, Pilip emphasized border security and support for law enforcement as main agenda items during her interview with Spectrum News NY1 on Friday.
She is also an advocate for reinstating the federal deduction for state and local taxes (SALT), a benefit significantly reduced under President Trump’s 2017 tax reform.
This issue was also a focus for Suozzi during his congressional tenure. Pilip criticized Suozzi’s failure to maintain the SALT deduction, promising, “I know the Long Island delegation, we’re pretty much very strong on that. And we’re going to bring SALT back to New Yorkers.”
Regarding the contentious issue of abortion, following the 2022 Supreme Court decision overturning the constitutional right to the procedure, Pilip expressed opposition to a national abortion ban.
She supports the national availability of Mifepristone, a medication used in abortion procedures.
While acknowledging Trump’s effective presidency, Pilip remains open to supporting any Republican nominee chosen by the people.
The upcoming election follows Santos’ historic expulsion from the U.S. House of Representatives last month due to allegations of lying about aspects of his personal and professional background and alleged financial improprieties.