Democrat Tom Suozzi and Republican Mazi Melesa Pilip appeared together at a weekend rally for Israeli hostages held by Hamas even as they battle for the Long Island congressional seat previously held by disgraced ex-Rep. George Santos.
Setting aside their fierce political fight for the 3rd Congressional District, the rivals joined hands at the Mid-Island Y Jewish Community Center in Plainview to support calls for Palestinian terrorists to release scores of hostages they seized in the Oct. 7 terror attack.
“Your pain, our pain. Your pain, my pain,” said an emotional Pilip, an Israeli immigrant who served in the Israeli Defence Forces. “Your son is my brother.”
“Despite everything else that his going on, we need to stand together to bring them home,” Suozzi said.
The rally was held to spotlight the continuing imprisonment of Omer Neutra, who is from Plainview and was serving in the IDF when he was captured by Hamas terrorists. He is one of a handful of American citizens being held in Gaza.
Pilip has sought to highlight her Israeli background and strong support for the Jewish state as a selling point in the race to fill the seat once held by Santos.
Suozzi counters that his strong support for Israel is needed within the Democratic Party to counter progressive critics of the ongoing war in Gaza.
The district, which spans the North Shore and a slice of northeast Queens, includes large Jewish communities especially in the town of Great Neck.
The Feb. 13 special election could be an early sign of how Jewish and pro-Israel voters may break down in the fall presidential and congressional elections.
The only poll of the district so far shows Suozzi with a narrow lead.
Suozzi, a moderate Democrat, is much better known in the district, having represented most of it for three terms before leaving to mount a failed bid for governor in 2022.
Pilip is a political neophyte who surprised many by winning two straight terms in a Democratic-leaning district in the Nassau County legislature.
Democrats are dramatically outspending Republicans so far in what some analysts predicted would be a red-hot marquee matchup in the suburban bellwether district, with potentially huge implications for the national political climate.
The GOP holds a slender seven-seat edge in Congress, a tally that would be reduced to six if Suozzi wins.
Santos, who admitted making up most of his life story, became the first House lawmaker since the Civil War to be expelled from Congress without first being convicted of a crime. He is awaiting trial on federal fraud, theft, and campaign finance charges.