Third congressional district special election candidates Mazi Pilip and Tom Suozzi appeared side-by-side at the Mid-Island Y JCC in Plainview on Sunday at a rally for the Israeli hostages held by Hamas. It was a rare public appearance for the reclusive Pilip, who has come under growing criticism for ducking the press.

A Show of Unity

Pilip and Suozzi joined the parents of Omer Neutra, an Israel Defense Forces soldier held by Hamas. Neutra was raised in Long Island. His parents live in Melville.

Pilip told the audience that she’s not the same person since October 7 and called for Neutra’s return home.

Suozzi echoed those sentiments and, in a show of unity, asked Pilip to join him by his side in a show of solidarity. He said, “It’s very appropriate that this is one of the few times that we’ve been together, to stand together.”

Pilip, however, refuses to stand by Suozzi’s side on a debate stage before voting begins. She has only agreed to one debate against Suozzi, which will air on News 12 on February 8, five days after the start of early voting and just five days before the February 13 election day.

Suozzi also appeared on Eyewitness News’s flagship Sunday local news program, “Up Close.” After the interview, host Bill Ritter said that Pilip too was invited to the program but “her campaign did not respond” and turned down an offer to take part in a debate, as she has done with NY-1 and other channels.

Suozzi’s Big Tent Coalition

Suozzi has maintained a frenetic pace of campaigning, holding at least three other events on Sunday with Chinese American, Indian American, Korean American, and Tibetan American voters. He leads Pilip with Asian American voters by 35 points.

Suozzi, the former Nassau County executive worked hard to form a big tent centrist coalition across the district, which begins in Whitestone, Queens, runs east to Oyster Bay and Syosset, before looping down to Farmingdale and Massapequa Park. It includes the respective hometowns of Pilip and Suozzi: Great Neck and Glen Cove.

It’s unclear whether Pilip took part in other events this weekend. On Saturday, a rally took place on her behalf, while Pilip remained home in observance of the Jewish Sabbath.

Pilip’s absence from the public has been a theme of her campaign, in contrast to Suozzi’s omnipresence.

In the race to replace the expelled George Santos, undecided voters may choose the centrist Suozzi, believing they know what they’re getting, instead of taking a risk on the unknown, untested Pilip.

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