HUNTINGTON, N.Y. – Election Day is only four months away, but Republican congressional candidate Joe Finley is just getting started on his run for Congress — and he hopes that his job as a New York City firefighter will help make up for lost time.
"If I didn't think I could do something good for our country, and do something to prevent another terror attack or prepare for the next one," Finley said this week, "I wouldn't be doing this."
Finley wants to represent the Congressional district that includes his hometown of Huntington, N.Y., 20 miles east of New York City.
The town lost residents in the Sept. 11 attacks, and if elected to Congress, Finley said his constituents will know that homeland security is his top priority.
"Career politicians had an opportunity to do something about this, and we missed our chance," he said, adding that being a firefighter, and not a professional politician, should work in his favor.
Serving in Congress would be a new twist in his family's history of public service. Finley's father, grandfather and at least four other relatives served as firemen in their time.
At age 10, Finley lost his father in the line of duty. He said Sept. 11 hit close to home for him. His firehouse lost nine men.
Finley is no longer able to fight fires because he developed asthma after working at Ground Zero. He now thinks he can help his community most by going to work in Washington.
If Finley wins the Republican ticket, he would go up against freshman Democratic Rep. Steve Israel in a general election and Green Party candidate John Keenan, also a firefighter.
Israel said he's not worried about the competition.
"There are two firefighters running in this race. They'll make the case why they should be here and I'll run on my record as to why I should stay here," Israel said.
Ten months after the Sept. 11 attacks, polls suggest Americans are still concerned about future terror attacks. The firemen say that concern means they still have a fighting chance.