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3rd Congressional District candidate Tom Suozzi vows to sit down and find common ground with Republicans if elected

NY-03 candidate Tom Suozzi vows to work with Republicans if elected
NY-03 candidate Tom Suozzi vows to work with Republicans if elected 03:43

GLEN COVE, N.Y. -- The special election to fill the seat vacated by George Santos is in less than two weeks. Voters in the 3rd Congressional District in Nassau County and Queens are being flooded with mailings.

On Wednesday night, CBS New York introduced you to Mazi Pilip, who is running on the Republican side. On Thursday, reporter Carolyn Gusoff sat down with Democrat Tom Suozzi, who is fighting to take get back to Congress.

Suozzi said there's no shame in being a career politician.

"In my case, you've got somebody that you know, somebody who has been around, somebody who has a proven record of getting things done," Suozzi said.

His motto is is "Let's fix this." The question is, what's broken?

"Everybody is sick and tired of everybody just attacking each other. You can't solve a complicated problem in an environment of fear and anger with everybody just yelling at each other. You have to try and sit down, even if you disagree with people, and find common ground," Suozzi said.

READ MORERepublican Mazi Pilip running to replace expelled congressman George Santos: "It's about the future of our country"

Suozzi said he has been in search of common ground for three decades. He has been the mayor of Glen Cove and then county executive. He is a trained attorney and CPA who rescued Nassau from near bankruptcy, and rebuilt the crumbling county seat.

"Much of our real estate is represented by our county building across the street, which is falling apart," Suozzi said back in 2002.

However, he lost his office to Ed Mangano in a red wave. He was elected to three terms in Congress, served as vice chair of the Problem Solver Caucus, and led the charge to restore the SALT deduction.

"I got it through the House three times. They couldn't get it through the Senate, therefore it didn't get to the president's desk. But if I go back, I'll get it done," Suozzi said.

He then ran for governor on a tough-on-crime platform.

The rest is history.

In the wake of the Santos debacle, Suozzi says he offers concrete ideas and works across party lines as a moderate. He's also pro-reproductive rights and common sense gun safety.

In ad wars, opponent Pilip paints him as a radical.

"I'm one of less than half the Democrats who voted to fund the border security measures," Suozzi said.

READ MORETom Suozzi chosen as Democratic candidate in special election for George Santos' congressional seat

"In this heap of ads, it says you voted to defund the police, raise middle class taxes, and open the Southern border. Is this you?" Gusoff asked.

"It's laughable. That is so not what I'm about. I'm all about pro-law enforcement, pro-finding solutions, stand up to the far left of my own party, and stand up to the far right of the other party," Suozzi said.

"But you have to admit it's your party in power during the worst migrant crisis we have ever seen," Gusoff said.

"That's absolutely true and I've actually said to the president, 'You have to do more on this, propose a bipartisan comprehensive solution,'" Suozzi said.

Suozzi pointed to the bipartisan fix he drafted with Peter King and added Republicans are now weaponizing the current proposal.

Running against a Jewish former member of the Israel Defense Forces, Suozzi touted his unequivocal support of Israel.

"What we need are strong outspoken pro-Israel Democrats that will stand up for Israel and will stand up to the extreme left," Suozzi said.

He also accused Pilip of ducking debates and parroting GOP talking points.

"That's the difference between me and my opponent. I'll give you concrete proposals with a record of accomplishment. She is untested, she is unvetted, and she will make things worse," Suozzi said.

In Congress, he says, career experience matters.

Early voting starts this weekend and runs through Feb. 11. The election is on Feb. 13.

Suozzi is a married father of three. One son plays in the New York Mets' minor league system.

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