NEW YORK — Former U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi has officially launched his campaign to run for the House seat vacated after the expulsion of ex-congressman George Santos.
The Democrat wants to reclaim his seat in New York’s 3rd Congressional District, representing parts of Nassau County and Queens.
Party leaders were tasked with choosing nominees for the Feb. 13 election, triggered when Santos’ fellow lawmakers voted to remove him from the U.S. House earlier this month.
Suozzi previously held the seat before Santos but stepped away to run for governor.
To kick off his campaign, Suozzi was surrounded by union workers outside of a republican voter’s house in Levittown.
“I’m a registered republican,” said retired NYPD deputy inspector Tom Kavanaugh, who happens to be that voter. “But I have such trust and such faith in him, he’s the only democrat I ever voted for.”
Suozzi held this congressional seat for six years.
The race for the district, which includes parts of Long Island and a small section of the New York City borough of Queens, is expected to draw significant attention as both parties zero in on New York as a potential battleground for control of the House.
The special election is as high stakes as they come.
The GOP currently holds a narrow eight-seat margin in the chamber.
The Nassau County Republican Chairman Joe Cairo meanwhile has apologized for endorsing Santos.
Cairo says he’s thoroughly vetting all candidates, interviewing more than 25 candidates.
He says the party is close to making its endorsement.
“Very important,” he said. “That’s why we’re going to do a very thorough job not only where there are questions asked, very probing questions at the interview process by the committee, but now we are engaging today private companies to do a thorough background check.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.