By: Hadassa Kalatizadeh
On Monday November 11, long-time Republican congressional representative for Long Island’s district announced that he will not seek reelection in 2020. Rep. Peter King, who has served for almost 30 years or 14-terms as congressman, will be retiring. As reported by ABC News, Democrats see the news as an opportunity to pounce in and grab one more suburban House seat, in a bid to keep their majority in 2020. Recently voters have been siding with Democratic candidates, particularly in suburban areas, as evident in state elections in Kentucky and Virginia, as backlash towards Republican President Donald J. Trump. The GOP’s once-powerful hold on Long Island seems to be loosening too.
King said he will use the remainder of his term to stand up against the impeachment efforts, and rally behind President Trump. King similarly opposed Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998. “In the coming weeks and during the next year I intend to vote against President Trump’s impeachment and will support the President’s bid for re-election,” King said.
King, 75, said in a post on Facebook that he is retiring so that he can have “flexibility to spend more time” with his children and grandchildren “after 28 years of spending 4 days a week in Washington, D.C.”
King is the longest-serving Republican member of New York’s congressional delegation, even having been the NYS’s lone GOP member of Congress in 2008, under President Obama. He has become known for his bipartisanship, and has been one of the most pragmatic in his party, especially as the Republicans have started leaning towards the right. He formerly served as a chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, as well as being a zealous fighter for New York’s interests. He was also at the forefront fighting for legislation to fund health care for first responders who got cancer and other serious health problems resulting from the Sept. 11 attacks.
Following his announced retirement, King received high praise from Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, with which he worked to successfully obtain an aid package for NY after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. “Peter King stood head & shoulders above everyone else,” Tweeted Schumer on Monday. “He’s fiercely loved America, Long Island, and his Irish heritage and left a lasting mark on all 3.”
Twenty other House Republicans have already declared that they will not be running for reelection. Three other GOP lawmakers have resigned and already left Congress. New York State Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy praised King and expressed enthusiasm for the future. “We have every confidence we will retain this seat and continue the strong representation that Long Islanders deserve,” he said. On Monday, relatively unknown Democrat Liuba Grechen Shirley said she will consider running for King’s position again. Last year she lost to King by only 6 percentage points.