Vendor Who Helped Stop NYC Bombing Running for Congress

A Vietnam War veteran says he will challenge a Republican incumbent in an effort to be the first Black representative from a congressional district just north of New York City.

Posted: 02/07/2012 02:15 PM EST

A vendor who helped police thwart an attempted car bombing in Times Square in 2010 has announced that he is running for Congress, in a district just north of New York City.

Duane Jackson, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and has worked on the sidewalks of New York selling handbags, watches and pashmina scarves, is challenging Nan Hayworth, a one-term Republican who represents parts of Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess and Orange Counties in New Jersey.

If successful, Jackson would be the first African-American to represent that district.

Jackson is campaigning on the theme that he has 15 years of experience in the New York City government in the fields of education and housing. He describes his years as a vendor as providing him with experience in small business.

He became the object of a good deal of attention and fame in May 2010 when he and another vendor spotted a vehicle parked in a no-parking zone near the Broadway theater where The Lion King was showing.

The two vendors notified police officers on duty in the Times Square area that smoke was emerging from the vehicle. It was later discovered that inside the vehicle was a powerful bomb made with propane and gasoline that had started to detonate but had yet to explode.

Faisal Shahzad, a self-proclaimed terrorist, confessed to plotting to explode the bomb. He was convicted and is serving a life sentence in prison.

In the aftermath, Jackson received calls of thanks from President Obama and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Jackson’s campaign is considered a decidedly uphill one. There are already three other Democratic candidates in the race and running against a well-financed incumbent is never an easy job. His campaign has launched a website and has publicized a phone number for donors to call.

Hayworth, who had Tea Party approval and support, won by six points against the Democratic contender, incumbent John Hall, in the 2010 election.

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(Photo: Wu Kaixiang / Xinhua News Agency)

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