BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — New York State Senator Tim Kennedy announced Tuesday his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the NY-26 seat in Congress.

The seat, currently held by Congressman Brian Higgins, will become vacant in February 2024 as Higgins announced his plans to resign. Higgins, a Democrat, intends to vacate his seat and take the position of president at Shea’s Performing Arts Center.

Higgins has served as a representative since 2005. His resignation comes after his 2022 reelection to a two-year term.

Kennedy’s political involvement began in college, when he volunteered for Higgins’ State Assembly campaign, according to a press release. In 2004, he was appointed to the Erie County Legislature and reelected three times. He represented the 2nd District and served as chair of the Economic Development Committee.

In 2010, Kennedy defeated longtime incumbent William Stachowski in the primary election for State Senate and Jack Quinn III in the general election. He took office in 2011 and represented the 58th District until 2012. He has represented the 63rd district since 2013.

In a press release, Kennedy, a lifelong Democrat and Western New York native, said he pledges to fight for abortion rights, keep illegal guns off of the streets, combat inflation, and make both Niagara and Erie counties more affordable.

“We’ve come a long way, but we’re far from done. I’m running for Congress because I want my children, and all of our children, to have the opportunity to stay here and build a future for themselves and their families,” Kennedy said in a release. “I’ll fight every day in Washington for our shared values and against the extremist Republican agenda that seeks to take away our rights. I will always fight to protect a woman’s right to choose and work to strengthen our nation’s gun laws to combat senseless gun violence like we’ve seen right here in our community.”

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Emily Miller is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2022. See more of her work here.