New York’s 2nd Congressional District hugs the South Shore of Long Island from Seaford to Sayville, and goes north to bits of Levittown and Ronkonkoma. Voters’ party registration is about evenly split. But it’s best known as Pete King’s district.
First elected to Congress in 1992, Peter T. King has seen the boundaries shape-shift twice from redistricting, moving it farther east, away from the Nassau County Republican base that launched his political career on the Hempstead Town Board and then as Nassau County comptroller.
Now, King represents more of Suffolk County. His district takes in places that are more diverse, with communities such as Wyandanch and Central Islip. Despite the changes, King, 74, of Seaford, never faced a significant challenge until this year, when more women decided to run for office in reaction to the policies of President Donald Trump. One is Democrat Liuba Grechen Shirley of Amityville, who has worked on economic development projects for the United Nations and for nonprofit organizations.
Grechen Shirley, 37, is part of a generation that brings fresh concerns and priorities to the race. They include Medicare for all, a strong commitment to combating climate change, and the ability to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy. Her main argument is that King no longer represents the district, that his views against same-sex marriage and abortion rights, for example, are out of step, and that his support for Trump’s executive order halting immigration from some Muslim-majority nations is wrong. Grechen Shirley could ably represent the district.
This board often has opposed King’s views and his votes. But in these extraordinary times, experience and bipartisanship are needed. Democrats are poised to seize control of the House of Representatives. Such a shift will likely be at the expense of more moderate Republicans. King knows how bipartisanship works. His fights against his own party to get medical benefits for 9/11 first responders and relief to our region after superstorm Sandy were laudable. This year, King again went against GOP leaders to help Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi increase funding to clean up the Bethpage plume. And it was King’s relationship with Trump that got the critical Gateway rail project back on track. He got Trump’s attention and $4 million for Suffolk County to fight MS-13.
In the new session, King could wrangle votes for Democratic initiatives like background checks for gun purchases, a pathway to citizenship for those brought here illegally as children and safeguards for those with temporary protective status. King is optimistic that there are GOP votes to restore lost state and local tax deductions on federal returns.
Coming months promise tumultuous times in Washington as the special counsel concludes his investigation of the 2016 election and Democrats demand more oversight of the Trump administration. It is our hope that King will step up as a proven leader and be a voice of unity and common sense that can narrow the divide that is undermining our nation.
Newsday endorses King. — The editorial board