(Bloomberg) -- John Avlon, a political analyst for CNN, said Tom Suozzi’s decisive victory last week in the special election for the House seat vacated by George Santos showed how Democrats can win on Long Island. And he wants to prove it himself.

Avlon, 51, said Wednesday he plans to run against first-term Republican Representative Nick LaLota in New York’s 1st congressional district, which runs from Montauk to the vineyards of the North Fork over to Cold Spring Harbor, which Billy Joel celebrated on his debut album.

His announcement comes a week after Suozzi’s special election win in New York’s 3rd congressional district in Nassau County and eastern Queens, a pickup that narrowed Republicans’ already slender control of the House. The win boosted morale among Democrats ahead of the November elections, as they seek to retake control of Congress. 

Suozzi showed that “with the right candidate who can energize the center,” Democrats can flip seats in swing districts in November, Avlon said. 

“There are a lot of positive lessons out of that campaign,” Avlon, a former editor-in-chief of the Daily Beast, said in an interview. He cited Suozzi’s appeal not just to Democrats, but to independent voters unaffiliated with either major political party. 

Avlon, who was born in South Carolina, said his primary residence is in Sag Harbor, a former whaling village that sits on the northern shores of Long Island’s South Fork in the Hamptons. He’s had a residence there since 2017, and also owns a home in Manhattan.

Avlon said he will run as a candidate from “the center of the political spectrum” who “can appeal across the party’s divide.” He drew a contrast with LaLota, who he said is a “profile in cowardice and cynicism,” for his opposition to recent bipartisan immigration legislation. He called his opponent a “MAGA Republican,” referring to the supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Croquet and Cocktails

LaLota, who has endorsed Trump for reelection, welcomes the challenge. 

“Avlon knows nothing about Suffolk County other than Sag Harbor croquet matches and summer cocktail parties in Bridgehampton,” Will Kiley, a spokesman for LaLota’s campaign, said in an email. 

“It may take burning millions of his friends’ money for Avlon to learn NY-1 has a history of rejecting out-of-state and Manhattan elitists, from both sides of the aisle, who parachute into the district attempting to buy a seat in Congress.”

Of the 18 Republicans who won in 2022 in districts that President Joe Biden carried in 2020 or would have carried in their current configuration, LaLota “has been hugging Trump the tightest, and I think he’s out of step with the district,” Avlon said. 

Read More: Democrat Suozzi Wins Back NY House Seat Vacated by Santos (1)

Republican victories in New York’s suburban swing districts were critical to the GOP’s 2022 takeover of the House majority. Despite underperforming in midterm races in other parts of the US, Republican candidates managed to flip four House seats in New York City suburbs and the Hudson Valley.

Democrats currently have a slight edge in enrollment over Republicans in the district, although there are nearly as many unaffiliated voters as there are enrolled as either Democrats or Republicans, enrollment data shows. Still, there are nearly 35,000 more Democrats enrolled in the district than there were in November 2018. 

Barack Obama won the district in 2008 and 2012, but Donald Trump won in both 2016 and 2020. 

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