NOTE: Happy Thanksgiving. Our Political Updates will return on Monday, Dec. 2.
By Jim EllisNov. 27, 2019 — Action about who the Republicans might nominate to succeed retiring New York Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) is beginning to simmer, especially since the Club for Growth released a poll of the district’s GOP electorate late last week.
The Club contracted with WPA Intelligence to test Lara Trump, wife of Eric Trump and daughter-in-law of President Trump. Rumors had been surfacing that she might be contemplating running in the 2nd District; hence, the interest in gauging what type of support she might have for such a race. WPAi paired Lara with former congressman, Rick Lazio, who is considering becoming a candidate, in a hypothetical Republican primary. According to their data (Nov. 17-18; 400 likely NY-2 Republican primary voters), Lara Trump would lead Lazio by a whopping 53-19 percent.
The result is not particularly surprising because Donald Trump has a solid Republican base in the district. The WPAi survey finds the president’s favorability ratio at 78:19 percent within this GOP primary voter sample.
In response to the poll, Lara told Breitbart News that she’s, “ … incredibly honored by this showing of support from my fellow New Yorkers. While I would never close the door on anything in the future, right now I am focused on winning a second term for President Trump.” Lara serves as an advisor to the president’s re-election campaign.
So far, Islip Town Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt and Suffolk County Elections Commissioner Nick LaLota are announced Republican candidates. State Assemblyman Mike LiPetri (R-Massapequa) has formed a congressional exploratory committee and is expected to join the race. Early last week, former Suffolk County executive, Steve Levy, and County Legislature Minority Leader Tom Cilmi both said they would not run for the seat.
The Democrats appear to be coalescing around Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon, who is a retired Army officer. Gordon had announced a challenge campaign against Rep. King and raised just under $188,000 through the Sept. 30 deadline. The 2018 Democratic nominee, Liuba Grechen Shirley, who held the congressman to a surprisingly close 53-47 percent victory, has already announced that she will not enter the 2020 open seat campaign.
The 2nd District is likely to become competitive though the eventual GOP nominee will begin as the general election favorite. The seat contains about one-third of Suffolk County and almost 200,000 residents from Nassau County. President Trump carried the district, 53-44 percent, but President Obama outpolled both Mitt Romney here in 2012 (52-47 percent), and John McCain four years earlier (51-48 percent).
The district looks to be changing, moving more toward the Democrats. Reports suggest that Democratic registration has grown significantly in Nassau since the last election, while GOP affinity has declined. Republicans continue to outpace Democrats, however, in Suffolk County even among new registrants.
Though the Dems are gaining somewhat in the district overall, the fact that Suffolk has three times the 2nd District constituency in comparison to Nassau negates most of the party’s recent increase in the latter county. The trends still suggest, however, that the open seat election has the potential of becoming close next year.
It is more than likely Lara won’t run for the seat because she will probably become a key figure in the national campaign, but we can still expect serious competition in what remains as one of New York’s few Republican districts.