Times Square Vendor Who Alerted Police to Car Bomb to Run for Congress

Feb 7, 2012 5:08pm
ap duane jackson thg 120207 main Times Square Vendor Who Alerted Police to Car Bomb to Run for Congress

Richard Drew/AP

A New York City street vendor who alerted police to a smoking SUV in Times Square that was found to contain a bomb plans to run for Congress in 2012.

Duane Jackson, 59, is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth in New York’s 19th district, which encompasses parts of the Hudson Valley.

Jackson told ABC News that he has been struck by the lack of bipartisanship in Congress and that he is hoping to be able to change some of that attitude.

“As a vendor in Times Square, you sit back and you talk to people from everywhere at the crossroads of the world and the narrative seems to be, certainly as it comes to America, what is being done for the people?” Jackson said.

“How come we can’t reach some kind of consensus down in Congress to move forward?” he said. “We get into this partisan bickering, and people absolutely — my neighbors here, are just sick of the whole dialogue. A lot of the times we elect people thinking that we’re going to get some sort of change, but yet we don’t elect people who are the change agents themselves.”

Jackson gained famed in May 2010, when he, along with fellow vendor Lance Orton, alerted police to the smoking SUV parked in Times Square. Police found a bomb in the vehicle.

Faisal Shahzad later confessed to planting the bomb and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Jackson tells ABC News he is still working as a vendor in Times Square, but that he will be taking a break from running his three operations in order to campaign.

“I’ve got to make the sacrifice to pursue this quest I’m actually on in terms of being able to actually get involved in the congressional race and make a difference, not only in the Hudson Valley, but in Washington, D.C., but to actually bring a different voice to the Congress,” Jackson said.

Jackson has lived in the Hudson Valley area of New York since 1994 with his wife and two children. He is a Vietnam veteran and has worked for the New York City Department of Housing and the New York City Board of Education.

Jackson joins several other candidates in a competitive primary running for the Democratic nomination, hoping to ultimately challenge Hayworth in the 19th District.

Hayworth is a freshman congresswoman who defeated Democratic incumbent John Hall in 2010. The Cook Political Report currently lists New York’s 19th District as likely Republican.

Nat Sillin, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the GOP committee that oversees House Republican elections, predicted that the Democratic primary will be “great theater.”

“Watching Duane Jackson and the four other Democrat candidates in the primary argue over who is the most liberal promises to be great theater for political junkies,” Sillin wrote in an email to ABC News. “For his sake I hope there’s less controversy about his candidacy than there was surrounding whether he was the street vendor that alerted police.”

Jackson was not the first vendor to alert police to the suspicious SUV — that was fellow Vietnam veteran Lance Orton — but New York officials credited both men with bringing attention to the would-be bomber’s vehicle.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee did not specifically address Jackson’s candidacy when asked for comment.

“Congresswoman Nan Hayworth has consistently voted for an extreme agenda that ends Medicare while protecting tax breaks for billionaires and Big Oil” DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson wrote in an email to ABC News. “Hudson Valley voters are looking for a representative who will fight for middle class jobs and protect seniors from the devastating cuts to Medicare being pushed by Congresswoman Hayworth and her Washington Republicans.”

A call to Nan Hayworth’s congressional office in Washington, D.C., was not immediately returned.

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