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N.Y. GOP Seeks Opportunities Outside the Big Apple

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
King is a safe bet to win re-election, but many are eyeing his seat down the road. One GOP operative said King’s eventual successor will be “whoever Pete King wants.”

Beyond the Big Apple, Republicans see great opportunities in the Empire State.

Upstate and suburban House seats are not nearly as entrenched as in the five boroughs, argue New York Republicans. What’s more, these regions are far more sensitive to national issues, most recently the government shutdown and the flawed rollout of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

“The topsy-turvy nature of what’s going on in D.C. is putting things in play in New York, even though they shouldn’t be,” GOP consultant Brendan Quinn said.

The country’s largest city — and its Democratic bent and financial resources — cannot be ignored. (Last week’s column examined New York State’s Democratic up-and-comers.) As a result, it will likely be a long time before New York Republicans can mount serious challenges to Democratic Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

So New York GOP operatives are looking deep into the bench for future talent.

Empire State operatives named the following as possible future statewide contenders: Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, Montgomery County Executive-elect Matt Ossenfort, former Bush administration aide Elise Stefanik, and state Sen. Lee Zeldin.

Senate recruiters will also likely consider those in the House delegation. State operatives named Republican Reps. Chris Collins, Chris Gibson and Michael G. Grimm as possible challengers some day.

As for the House, New York Republicans focus their investments in local executive and legislative talent to run in upstate and suburban New York City races.

Statewide, seven districts are rated at least mildly competitive by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. Another four seats currently occupied by Republican Reps. Peter T. King and Richard Hanna and Democratic Reps. Steve Israel and Carolyn McCarthy, stand to be competitive once the incumbents leave office.

Three of those four districts are on Long Island. Several national Republicans said they have little control over candidate selection in the area, thanks to a bottom-up, kiss-the-ring local party political culture. National parties avoid intervening in primaries there.

King is a safe bet for re-election, but his seat is a target of speculation for the future.

“He’s been there so long, it’s going to be whoever Pete King wants,” one national GOP operative said.

Republicans named state Sens. Phil Boyle and Chuck Fuschillo Jr., Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto and Nassau County Comptroller Chief of Staff Steven Labriola as possible future candidates for King’s seat.

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