GREAT NECK, N.Y. (PIX11) — The battle for New York’s 3rd Congressional District begins with the decision by Democrat Tom Suozzi not to seek reelection after an unsuccessful bid to become New York governor.

Instead, voters will choose between a Republican challenger who ran two years ago and a longtime activist and voice in Democratic politics. Regardless of who wins, history is being made in this race.

Both Democrat Robert Zimmerman and Republican George Santos are openly gay. Their general election contest is the first time two out members of the LGBTQ+ community have run in the history of the United States House of Representatives.

Neither seems to be dwelling on that fact.

“I stand up for the rights of the LGBTQ community, and George Santos stands up for the Donald Trump agenda,” Zimmerman said.

“I think it’s really telling about the two parties. My party accepts me, and he had to fight really hard to get to this point,” Santos said.

Zimmerman did emerge from a crowded Democratic primary following Suozzi stepping aside.

After redistricting, NY-3 now includes a small slice of eastern Queens and all of northern Nassau County including communities like Glen Cove, Syosset and Westbury.

Zimmerman has worked for elected leaders in the area and has long been involved in national Democratic politics — advocating for Planned Parenthood, LGBTQ+ rights and gun control.

He is hoping to bring Democratic supporters and independent together on the issue of issue of abortion access following the overturning of Roe vs. Wade.

Zimmerman painted his Republican opponent as extreme.

“Advocating prosecuting doctors who provide abortion services, actually comparing abortion to slavery, actually bragging about funding the insurrectionist defense fund helping the insurrectionists on January 6 to get out of jail,” Zimmerman said of Santos.

Santos said in an interview with former President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law that he did attend the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, but he later said he did not take part in and denounces the attack on the U.S. Capitol that followed.

“I believe there were a lot of rule changes in the 2020 election. There were a lot of things that were not kosher or legal,” Santos told PIX11 News. “But I have never claimed Trump’s election to have been stolen.”

Santos describes himself as a seasoned Wall Street financier and investor, and more importantly, a loving husband and father to four dogs. The son of immigrants is also fluent in Portuguese and Spanish.

Santos has centered his campaign on crime and the economy. He argues that focusing on issues like his opposition to abortion, which he says includes exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother, is not what voters want to talk about.

“Robert Zimmerman would be a rubber stamp for Joe Biden‘s agenda, and Joe Biden‘s agenda is America currently,” Santos said. “Crime is rampant, inflation is a problem, Americans are taking a 9.5% pay cut. So anything beside those talking points are a distraction to distract the voter from what’s out there and affecting.”

PIX11 News did step Zimmerman through each major piece of spending under President Joe Biden and he did voice support for each.

“I am a small business owner,” Zimmerman said. “I talk about the economy because I live it. But let me be clear with you; standing up for reproductive rights is not a distraction. That’s a personal autonomy and right we have to make sure they are protected with.”

The Cook Political Report rates NY-3 as leaning slightly toward Democrats. Congressman Tom Suozzi won the district by more than 10 points each of the last two years, but this contest is expected to be much closer to no incumbent candidates and redistricting.