By Jim Ellis
Nov. 13, 2019 — Over the Veterans holiday weekend, long-time New York Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford/ Islip) announced that he will not seek re-election to a 15th term next year, ending what will be 28 years of service in the US House.Prior to winning the South Shore Long Island seat in 1992, King served as the Nassau County comptroller for 11 years. In 1977, he was elected to the Hempstead Town Council, his first political campaign.
King, a former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, represents New York’s 2nd District, bordering the Great South Bay, which travels along the Sunrise Highway from Bayport through Babylon all the way to Seaford. The district leans Republican. President Trump carried the seat 53-44 percent in 2016, though both Mitt Romney and John McCain fell several percentage points short of winning here.
Through his 14 elections, King has averaged 55.4 percent of the vote through different configurations of the district. In 2018, the congressman defeated business consultant Liuba Gretchen Shirley, 53.1–46.9 percent, in a race where his opponent raised just under $2 million. For his part, the congressman spent almost $3.2 million.
There had been retirement speculation surrounding the 75-year-old King, for several months. Earlier it had been assumed that the congressman’s daughter, Erin King Sweeney, would run to succeed him when he eventually left office but apparently that will not happen. In September, Sweeney announced that she would not seek re-election to her current position as the Republican leader on the Hempstead Town Council because her husband accepted a position in North Carolina and the family is moving.
While 2018 Democratic nominee Shirley has not announced that she is returning for a re-match, Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon (D) did declare her candidacy. Additionally, Trump impeachment activist Max Sax is in the Democratic field. Now that the 2nd District has become an open seat we can expect to see stronger Democrats come forward to make the race. A crowded Republican primary is also forecast.
The New York candidate filing deadline is not until April 2, so Democratic and Republican Party leaders have sufficient time to fully develop a credible group of candidates. The New York state primary is June 23. We can expect two competitive primaries and a tight general election. The early rating for this new open seat is Lean Republican.
King now becomes the 32nd sitting House member who will not seek another term in office. Within this group, more than two-thirds, or 22, are currently Republican-held. Ten are from the Democratic side of the political aisle.
As reported earlier, four of the seats are vacant and headed to a special vote before the next general. The elections for resigned Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) and the late Rep. Elijah Cummings’ (D-MD) seats have already been scheduled. The governors of New York and California must still schedule special votes to replace resigned Reps. Chris Collins (R-Clarence/Batavia) and Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce/Palmdale).