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King: 'I will not be a candidate for the Senate'

Congressman Peter King comments about the filed Christmas

Congressman Peter King comments about the filed Christmas Day terror plot in his office. (Dec. 29, 2009) Credit: Howard Schnapp

WASHINGTON - After another gut check, Rep. Peter King said Monday he definitely would not run for the Senate.

The veteran Republican congressman from Seaford last year spent months before deciding not to run against New York's appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat. This year, King took just a week to turn down the opportunity.

"I will not be a candidate for the Senate," he said in a statement Monday.

King's decision leaves Republicans without an obvious candidate to face Gillibrand, despite her low poll numbers. Those mentioned as possibilities include former Gov. George Pataki. Former Staten Island Rep. Susan Molinari, also rumored to be interested, took herself out of the race Monday.

As before, King blamed the need to raise millions of dollars to fund a statewide campaign, which he said would take away from his work as a member of Congress and ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee.

But this time he added, "I am increasingly confident that Republicans will retake the majority in the House of Representatives and that I will again have the opportunity to be chairman" of that committee.

A year ago, King indicated he was ready to jump into a race against Caroline Kennedy when she was in the running to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton, after her U.S. secretary of state appointment. His enthusiasm cooled after Gov. David A. Paterson chose Gillibrand.

But with the change in political tides, GOP leaders and backers urged him to reconsider.

King's announcement means a Democrat, former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford, is the greatest threat to Gillibrand now.

"Every person will make their own decision about whether or not to run for office," said Gillibrand spokeswoman Bethany Lesser.

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