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Roll Call

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.

In a future open-seat race for McCarthy’s 4th District, GOP operatives said state Sen. Jack Martins and Hempstead Councilman Anthony J. Santino are potential candidates.

But it’s further out on Long Island where Republicans are far more confident of a more immediate pick up.

Almost more than any other race in the state, Republicans are excited about ousting Democratic Rep. Timothy H. Bishop. But they also concede that the GOP primary makes them nervous.

National and local Republican heavyweights prefer Zeldin. But he must first defeat attorney George Demos, who is running for the third time and has the capacity to self-fund a nasty primary.

The GOP is on offense elsewhere in the state.

Former Rep. Nan Hayworth has mounted comeback campaign to unseat her 2012 rival, Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in the 18th District. If Hayworth comes up short, New York Republicans mentioned outgoing Orange County Clerk Donna Benson as a potential candidate in the future.

Further upstate, Republican hope their candidate, Stefanik, can unseat Democratic Rep. Bill Owens. If she is unable to defeat him, Republicans say Hogan and Onondaga County Executive Joanne Mahoney will be likely future recruits.

Republicans play more on defense north of the city. Even as Grimm is floated as a Senate contender, some Republicans are deeply concerned about the political ramifications of his ongoing ethics investigations.

Republicans name state Sen. Andrew Lanza and New York City Councilman James Oddo as future recruits if Grimm moves on or loses re-election.

Even further to the north, Gibson is in a tough re-election fight against another self-funder, Democrat Sean Eldridge.

Republicans point to Rensselaer County Executive Kathleen Jimino and Molinaro as potential future GOP members for the 19th District.

But no other New York GOP House member makes Washington Republicans as nervous as Rep. Tom Reed in the 23rd District. If he loses his race next year, Republicans will likely recruit state Sen. Catharine Young, orthopedist Daniel Alexander and Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards.

Farm Team is a state-by-state look at the up-and-coming politicos who may eventually run for Congress. The column runs on Thursdays. The last Farm Team focused on Democrats in New York.

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