On Monday, 14-term GOP Rep. Peter King (NY-02) announced he won't seek reelection in 2020. While King's departure had been rumored for months and doesn't come as a shock, he's the sixth most senior Republican in the House and one of just five remaining from New York. His heavily suburban Long Island district moves from Likely Republican to Lean Republican.
King becomes the 101st House Republican since President Trump took office to either leave office or announce retirement plans. But while King, a Sinn Fein ally who built a reputation as an outspoken iconoclast and frequently broke from the GOP line — including on the 2017 tax bill — he made clear that he'll be voting against impeachment and supporting Trump's reelection.
The 2nd CD includes many working-class parts Long Island's South Shore and is known as a bedroom community for firefighters and law enforcement. It voted for Trump 53 percent to 44 percent in 2016. But, it twice voted narrowly for Barack Obama and the popular King held off Democratic single-payer advocate Liuba Grechen Shirley by just 53 percent to 47 percent in 2018.
On the GOP side, Rick Lazio, who represented parts of this seat in the 1990s before losing a Senate race to Hillary Clinton, is reportedly considering a comeback. But Assemblyman Mike LiPetri of Massapequa is also generating buzz. LiPetri unseated a Democratic incumbent in 2018 and has sponsored a bill to make throwing water at traffic cops a felony in response to a spate of recent incidents.
The early Democratic frontrunner is Babylon Councilwoman Jackie Gordon, who retired as a lieutenant colonel from the Army Reserves and has worked as a public school guidance counselor. She received EMILY's List's endorsement in October and had $127,000 on hand at the end of September. But an open seat could entice Shirley or other Democrats to consider.
King's exit certainly makes the 2nd CD a more attractive pickup opportunity for Democrats, but given Trump's relative popularity here, Republicans will start with the advantage.
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