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WASHINGTON - Rep. Pete King Wednesday praised New York's diversity, and the timing couldn't have been better.
King rebuked a fellow House Republican, Georgia Rep. Barry Loudermilk, for confusing diversity with violence in remarks he made Wednesday about his trip to Israel on the conservative Family Research Council Washington Watch radio show.
"I can say that we felt safer in Israel than we would in certain parts of New York City or Chicago," Loudermilk said, according to the news website BuzzFeed.
King defended New York City's safety and diversity when contacted by BuzzFeed Wednesday coincidentally on the same day that Newsday reported that the Seaford lawmaker would be challenged in next year's election by Democratic Suffolk County politician DuWayne Gregory, who is black.
New York City is actually safer than Atlanta, King said, because Atlanta has a murder rate five times higher than New York City's. (FBI uniform crime stats for 2013 show Atlanta's murder rate is 18.6 per 100,000 and New York City's is 4 per 100,000.)
King said people coming from small towns that are not diverse have a "knee-jerk" impulse to "accept this total exaggeration and distortion about New York being the center of crime" because it is diverse.
"I mean, we take it for granted in New York that you're going to have different ethnic groups all over the place, that you're going to have different religions all over the place, that you're going to have so much activity," King said.
"I'm not saying that as any great liberal," King added. "It's a fact of life that we accept, encourage and actually thrive on this, almost, conflict of ideas at times."
In announcing his run to defeat King, Gregory, the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, said, "He's out of touch with voters in the district."
The 2nd Congressional District is 22.6 percent Latino and 10 percent black.