Rep. Peter King (R)
Elected: 1992, 9th term.
Born: April 5, 1944, Manhattan .
Education: St. Francis Col., B.A. 1965, U. of Notre Dame, J.D. 1968.
Family: Married (Rosemary); 2 children.
Military career: Army Natl. Guard, 1968–73.
Elected office: Hempstead Town Cncl., 1977–81; Nassau Cnty. comptroller, 1981–92.
Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1968–72, 1978–81; Dep. atty., Nassau Cnty., 1972–74; Exec. asst., Nassau Cnty. exec., 1974–76, Gen. cnsl., comptroller, 1977.
The congressman from the 3rd District is Peter King, a Republican elected in 1992. King grew up in Sunnyside, Queens. His parents were Irish immigrants and Democrats, his father a New York City police detective. He went to St. Francis College and law school at the University of Notre Dame, and he clerked one summer at former Republican President Richard Nixon’s law firm with a Long Islander named Rudolph Giuliani. After law school, he followed the trek to the suburbs and became part of the Nassau County Republican machine. He worked as a lawyer and staffer in county government beginning in 1972, and in 1981, he became county comptroller. When 22-year Republican Rep. Norman Lent retired in 1992, King ran for the seat and won the Republican primary. In the general election, King ran as a political insider, fiscal conservative, and abortion-rights opponent. He won by just 50%-46%. He has not faced a close re-election since.
|Peter King (R-Ind-C)||172,774||(64%)||($875,084)|
|Graham Long (D-WF)||97,525||(36%)||($42,361)|
|Peter King (R)||6,847||(88%)|
|Robert Previdi (R)||897||(12%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (56%), 2004 (63%), 2002 (72%), 2000 (60%), 1998 (64%), 1996 (55%), 1994 (59%), 1992 (50%)
King’s voting record ranks him near the ideological center of the House. He is more conservative on foreign-policy issues than on economic or social ones, but with distinctive interests. He opposes abortion rights, racial quotas and preferences, bilingual education, and gun regulation. He supports English-only laws and opposes aid to illegal immigrants. He has been an ardent supporter of the Irish Republican Army. Within days of his election in 1992, he flew to Belfast to meet with leaders of Sinn Fein, the IRA’s political arm, and he had a role in 1998 peace negotiations carrying messages between the IRA and the Irish government. His activism on the issue led to an unusually close bipartisan relationship with President Bill Clinton, who helped broker the agreement. But in 2005, after Sinn Fein’s suspected involvement in a bank robbery and a highly publicized murder, King called for the IRA to disband. He often seemed more comfortable with Democrats and labor leaders—the sort of people he dealt with in Nassau County—than with Southern or Western Republicans. Over the years, King has been a provocative presence on radio and television chat shows. He also gained attention with two novels about politics and diplomacy in Northern Ireland. In one of them, Deliver Us From Evil, a thinly disguised Long Island congressman is the protagonist.
After the September 11 attacks, in which 160 of his constituents died, King became more of a Republican Party regular and focused on legislation to prevent a repeat of the attacks. After Republican Rep. Christopher Cox of California resigned to become chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2005, GOP leaders tapped King to succeed him as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. A major part of his job, he said, was to “articulate the Republican view on homeland security.” In 2006, he was the first House Republican to attack the Bush administration’s plan to give control of six major U.S. ports to a company in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and he subsequently helped to enact tighter controls on port security. During the debate over illegal immigration in 2007 and 2008, King criticized Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called for an end to federal raids of work sites known to employ illegal aliens. “We need more enforcement, not less,” he said. In 2009, he bucked his friends in organized labor by opposing their “card-check” bill to facilitate union organizing by requiring employers to recognize a union if it persuades a majority of workers to sign union authorization cards. Secret-ballot elections would be held only if they were requested by the unions, which would have little incentive to do so. King originally supported the controversial bill but cited “the most severe economic crisis in 75 years” to explain his switch.
As one of the few remaining moderate Republicans in Congress, King has decried the party’s losses of local offices in Nassau County and said that the GOP had “no overwhelming vision or course.” Freshman Nassau County legislator David Mejias, a Democrat, ran against King in 2006 with an endorsement from the AFL-CIO. He sought to link King to President Bush and “special interests.” But in an otherwise dismal year for New York Republicans, King won 56%-44%, providing evidence of his hold on his district. He had another easy win in 2008.