By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A street vendor who helped thwart a bombing attack in Times Square in May 2010 has announced he is running for Congress.

Duane Jackson, a disabled Vietnam veteran, was working at his handbag stall on May 1, 2010, when he noticed smoke curling out of an unattended sports utility vehicle and alerted the police.

Police evacuated the square, and a bomb squad diffused a crude device inside the vehicle made out of firecrackers and propane gas tanks.

In the aftermath, Jackson turned into a New York celebrity. President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg celebrated him as one of the heroes of the day. People lined up to thank him as he returned to selling handbags and watches from his stall.

Now he plans to run as a Democratic candidate in New York's 19th congressional district, just north of New York City, against the Republican incumbent, Nan Hayworth, according to his campaign website.

Jackson describes himself on his website as a small-business owner with 15 years of experience in city planning, including stints as a planner for the former New York City Board of Education and as a deputy director. He also says has been a member of Disabled American Veterans since 1991 and has worked as an advocate for veterans' rights.

He lists education reform, national security and energy independence as some of the issues that he champions, but his website does not give further details.

Messages left with Jackson's campaign officer were not responded to on Tuesday.

Just days after Jackson and fellow street vendors helped police avert disaster in Times Square, authorities arrested a Pakistani-born U.S. citizen, Faisal Shahzad for the failed car bomb plot. Shahzad later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

(Editing By Barbara Goldberg)