Rep. Peter King, longtime N.Y. congressman, latest in slew of GOP retirements

He has served his Long Island congressional district since 1993.
Image: Representative Peter King (R-NY) speaking at the press conference at the Capitol in Washington,
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., speaks at the Capitol on July 23, 2019.Michael Brochstein / Sipa USA via AP file

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By Allan Smith and Kristen Welker

Longtime Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., announced Monday he will retire from Congress at the end of his term.

"I have decided not to be a candidate for re-election to Congress in 2020," King, 75, said in a statement. "I made this decision after much discussion with my wife Rosemary; my son Sean; and my daughter Erin. The prime reason for my decision was that after 28 years of spending 4 days a week in Washington, D.C., it is time to end the weekly commute and be home in Seaford."

King, who has represented a Long Island district for more than 25 years, added that retirement "was not an easy decision."

"My time in Congress has been an extraordinary experience — an experience I wouldn’t have even dared imagine when I was a kid growing up in Sunnyside or a college student loading and unloading trucks and freight cars at Manhattan’s West Side Railway Terminal," he said. "I intend to remain in Seaford, be active politically and look forward to seeing what opportunities and challenges await me in this next chapter of a very fortunate life."

The Cook Political Report lists King's district as leaning Republican. King won his most recent election in 2018 by more than 6 points — his tightest race since his first win in 1992.

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With his announcement, King becomes the latest Republican member of Congress to join a group of retiring members. In total, roughly two dozen Republican members of Congress and senators have announced their retirements ahead of the 2020 election.

Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement that "King's retirement, from a heavily suburban Long Island district, underlines just how serious Republicans’ problems are in swing districts across this country."

"New York’s 2nd Congressional District has been a pickup target of ours from day one of this cycle, and we will compete to win it in 2020," she said.

In an interview with NBC News, King said he spoke with the president Sunday to discuss his decision during a 10 to 15 minute phone call.

"I told him I wasn't going to run," King said. "He showed some disappointment and asked me to reconsider. When I told him the reason why, he said he understood."

King said he started seriously considering retirement a few weeks ago and said the impeachment inquiry played no role in his choice.

"I intend to vote against impeachment and fully support the president for re-election," he said.

Reaction began pouring in on social media soon after King's announcement. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said King "stood head & shoulders above everyone else."

"He’s been principled & never let others push him away from his principles," Schumer tweeted. "He’s fiercely loved America, Long Island, and his Irish heritage and left a lasting mark on all 3. I will miss him in Congress & value his friendship."

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., tweeted that she was "saddened" to read of King's retirement.

"He is a lion and NYers will never forget how he fought for them," she wrote. "Particularly in the dark days after 9/11. I will personally miss serving with Pete."