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Updated July 22, 2009
The Democratic Party has built a daunting 26-3 advantage over the Republicans in New York's U.S. House delegation, but nine-term incumbent King's local popularity in the 3rd District has enabled him to survive with aplomb.
His Long Island district has remained resiliently Republican-leaning. But even so, King's 64 percent vote share in 2008 ran him well ahead of GOP presidential nominee John McCain's 52 percent.
The reason this seat might be in play is that King is mulling the possibility of leaving it open to bid in New York's 2010 elections for statewide office. If he makes that move, he is seen as most likely to enter the Senate special election, in which Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand will be defending the seat to which she was appointed in January after Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton vacated it to become secretary of State.
King actually came close to making the leap during the Clinton transition: When the political buzz in New York was that Democratic Gov. David A. Paterson would appoint Caroline Kennedy of the famed political family to the Senate seat, King said he would definitely run against her. But the Kennedy appointment scenario fell through; Paterson appointed Gillibrand, an upstate Democrat who had just won a second House term; and King backed away from his earlier declaration.
He now says he will make a decision about his 2010 plans by Labor Day. But King's recent appointment to the Intelligence Committee makes it less likely he will opt to leave the House.
Should the seat open up, Democratic recruiters could benefit from their party's significant recent gains in Nassau County, once a rock-solid Republican stronghold. Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi would be courted but is more likely to eventually pursue statewide aspirations. Other names that have been circulated on the Democratic side include Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and minor league baseball team owner Frank Boulton.
But it would be tough to recruit a Democratic star if King forgoes the Senate race and decides to run for a 10th House term.
District Profile from Politics in America
Most of Long Island's eastern Nassau County and the south shore of western Suffolk County make up the 3rd, where extravagant estates mix with some of the nation's oldest middle-class suburbs. The district boasts New York's highest median household income -- which is now more than $91,000 -- and is still overwhelmingly white. The district has one of the lowest percentages of black residents (3 percent) in the state and the lowest percentage of Hispanics (10 percent) in the New York City area despite a decade of growth in minority populations.
Aircraft manufacturing giant Northrop Grumman, once a major local employer, still employs thousands but plays a reduced role in the 3rd's economy. Information technology companies have spread throughout the 3rd and neighboring Long Island districts, diversifying the local economy.
Tourism helps the district's economy, as thousands of visitors flock to summer paradises like Freeport's "Nautical Mile" and to beautiful golf courses, including Bethpage State Park, which has joined the rotation of hosts of the U.S. Open Championship. The 3rd boasts a variety of beautiful south shore beaches, including Long Beach and Jones Beach, which hosts an outdoor summer concert series. Other visitors travel to President Theodore Roosevelt's Sagamore Hill estate in Oyster Bay and his nearby grave in Youngs Memorial Cemetery.
The district, which has the state's highest median age, tends to favor Republican candidates, but a significant labor presence from construction and professional unions gives Democrats some areas of strength. Democrats also have made gains in Nassau County, which has been struggling with municipal budget shortfalls despite residents' high incomes and property values.
Higher education, information technology, service
Levittown (unincorporated), 51,881; Hicksville (unincorporated) (pt.), 39,902; Long Beach, 33,275; Glen Cove, 26,964; Lindenhurst (pt.), 26,696
The C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, named for the breakfast cereal and food company founder, is located on the grounds of the former Brookville estate of the magnate's daughter.
|2010||general||Peter King (R)||131,674||71.9%|
|Howard Kudler (D)||51,346||28%|
|2008||general||Peter King (R, INDC, C)||172,774||63.9%|
|Graham Long (D, WFM)||97,525||36.1%|
|2006||general||Peter King (R, INDC, C)||101,787||56%|
|David Mejias (D, WFM)||79,843||44%|
|2004||general||Peter King (R, INDC, C)||171,259||63%|
|Blair Mathies (D)||100,737||37%|
|2002||general||Peter King (R, C, INDC, RTL)||121,537||71.9%|
|Stuart Finz (D)||46,022||27.2%|
|Janeen DePrima (L)||1,513||0.9%|
|2008||Barack Obama: 47%||John McCain: 52%|
|2004||John Kerry: 47%||George W. Bush: 52%|
|2000||Al Gore: 53%||George W. Bush: 44%|