(CNN) — Former Rep. Tom Suozzi, a Democrat, on Saturday officially announced his run for the House seat left vacant by George Santos’ expulsion, saying that he will focus on the “bread-and-butter issues” that concern most Americans.
Suozzi, whom New York Democrats nominated earlier this week to run for the special election, represented a previous version of New York’s 3rd Congressional District, on the North Shore of Long Island, for three terms before vacating the seat to launch an unsuccessful primary challenge against New York Gov. Kathy Hochul last year.
Under New York’s special election rules, nominees are selected by the county party leaders in the district. Hochul has scheduled the special election to fill Santos’ former seat for February 13.
Suozzi’s announcement was expected because he had entered the race in October to challenge Santos in 2024 – before the Republican congressman’s expulsion. The district and its earlier versions had long been represented by Democrats until Santos’ surprising victory in an open-seat race in 2022. Two years earlier, Santos had lost to Suozzi by double digits.
Suozzi said Saturday that his campaign will address the rising cost of living; immigration; the threats posed by climate change; and fears driven by the wars in Ukraine and between Israel and Hamas.
Standing in front of a small crowd gathered in the backyard of a Long Island home, Suozzi emphasized the need to revive the American dream that once fueled its working-class suburbs.
“I’ll work hard, and in return for working hard I’ll make enough money so I can buy a place to live, I can educate my kids, I can have health insurance and I can retire one day without being scared, that’s the American dream,” Suozzi said.
“People are concerned that the American dream won’t work for them,” he said.
The former representative also called for an end to the increasing polarization in American politics.
“Enough of the finger-pointing, enough of the partisanship,” Suozzi said. “I’ll work with anybody who wants to work together to actually solve the problems that people face, and that’s what we need more of in this country.”
Republican leaders in Queens and Nassau counties have yet to announce their nominee. Santos’ expulsion has upped the stakes for the GOP in 2024 as they look to hold on to their razor-thin majority in the House.
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CNN’s Gloria Pazmino, Ethan Cohen and Jack Forrest contributed to this report.