Good Morning
Good Morning

Pete King's retirement is already over

Congressman Peter King speak outside his home on

Congressman Peter King speak outside his home on Nov. 11, 2019 in Seaford. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Daily Point

King's next conquest

It looks like it’s going to be a multi-part next act for Pete King.

The longtime GOP congressman with a national reputation filed paperwork with the state in December to form Pete King Strategies LLC, and eagle-eyed readers might have caught the last required public notice of that new shop on Friday.

"I’m the only employee," said King in a phone call with The Point, adding that Pete King Strategies wouldn’t have an outside office (he has one at his Seaford home) or a particular focus. Anyone that needs his advice is welcome.

On that front, he said he has already started consulting for Northwell Health — just conference calls and meetings so far. A Northwell spokeswoman described his role as "government affairs and federal policy consultant." King said he has known Northwell Health chief executive Michael Dowling for years and health care is obviously a "tremendous issue" given the pandemic. He did not disclose his compensation for the work.

COVID-19 disrupted an earlier plan of teaching for alma mater Notre Dame during his retirement.

"Everything like that is on hold," King said.

Still, there’s another side of post-elected life for King: his forthcoming participation in a WABC/770 AM radio program, and a recurring column for D.C. outlet The Hill, where in January King penned a piece headlined "What might have been, if Trump had not acted as his own worst enemy."

"I’ve gone over to the dark side twice," King said, keeping to his script about the media.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Sunday night's other ground game

George Santos, the congressional candidate who lost to Rep. Tom Suozzi last fall, already has said he’s hoping for a rematch in the 3rd Congressional District come 2022.

But apparently, Santos is looking for political battles to wage even before a new campaign begins.

Sunday evening, Santos threw the first salvo against State Sen. Anna Kaplan, criticizing legislation she introduced that would prohibit hate symbols, including the Confederate flag, and political campaign signs from being displayed in public buildings or on publicly owned equipment.

"I strongly don’t think @AnnaKaplanForLI understands the word ‘freedom.’ I don’t blame her giving (sic) her background. The confederate flag is part of history, an ugly history but one we must remind ourselves of to avoid a repeat," Santos’ first tweet said.

Then he issued a second missive: "It appalls me to think that she would like to make the #USA a freedomless hell hole … people migrate here from all corners of the world to experience freedom, and here comes Anna with an agenda full of restrictions."

Oddly, however, Santos apparently has since changed his mind.

"I’ve come to realize I was wrong," Santos told The Point on Monday. "I am wrong that I would consider a freedom being removed by [prohibiting] flying a flag of this nature on taxpayer-funded property."

Santos, however, also told The Point that he generally opposes restrictions like this, adding: "I don’t see how a flag harms anybody." And, he added, "My initial fear was of the slippery slope it could create."

Responses to Santos’ tweets came quickly on Sunday, from Kaplan, her spokesman, and even the spokeswoman for fellow State Sen. Jim Gaughran.

Kaplan’s spokesman, Sean Ross Collins, issued his own salvo at Santos, saying: "I'm dying to know why you would like to see either hate symbols or political activity on taxpayer owned property."

In response, Santos switched gears in his argument, saying in a follow-up tweet that there were "bigger issues" to address, like closed businesses and unemployment.

But then, he added: "And we are from NY the heart of the Union, we won! Evil lost, the confederate flag is nothing but a reminder of how strong the Union was when men of all races United against them."

But that wasn’t all. Kaplan tweeted her own response to Santos, saying that "Coming to America as a refugee taught me exactly what freedom is all about, and to suggest that an immigrant can’t understand freedom is as bigoted as it is ridiculous."

With a reference to the governor’s COVID-19 emergency powers, Santos responded to Kaplan: "Then restore the freedom of the people of NY! Remove @NYGovCuomo powers and legislate for the people too! You of all people should know better than! My parents came to #America for its freedoms and so did you! Shame on you for oppressing us further!"

To mix it up further, Gaughran’s spokeswoman, Marissa Espinoza, got in on the conversation, too, noting that Santos had gone to new- member orientation for Congress "when he knew he lost."

Santos didn’t respond, but he was entitled to attend those sessions because the race hadn’t been called yet due to the many absentee ballots.

"@AnnaMKaplan is an inspiration & only a delusional Twitter troll would suggest she ‘doesn’t understand freedom.’ Full. Stop," Espinoza tweeted.

The Twitter battle continued for a while, getting personal at times, especially between Collins and Santos.

In a chaotic interview Monday, Santos said he was particularly bothered by Kaplan’s legislation because it seemed like it was her priority over "putting jobs back on the market or putting food on the table."

"Politicians go to these offices to represent, to better our lives, not to prohibit us from flying a flag," Santos added.

Moments later, however, he made the about-face. "I stand corrected," he said.

Perhaps Santos was bored of the Super Bowl and wanted to pick a fight. Or perhaps he knew that to win a rematch in CD3 against incumbent Suozzi, he’d need to gain ground in Kaplan’s turf, especially in Great Neck, which voted more Republican in the 2020 election than in 2016.

But eventually, the back-and-forth ended. Through it all, Santos’ real political nemesis — Suozzi — was nowhere to be heard.

—Randi F. Marshall RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

Love at first sight?

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Quick Points

  • New COVID-19 cases have fallen 50% since their high point on Jan. 8. But many parts of the country, including the Northeast, are still well above their spring and summer peaks. Success, as they say, is relative.
  • The inevitable is underway: Thousands of migrants encouraged by Joe Biden becoming president are heading through Mexico toward the southern border. We’re about to discover the size and nature of Biden’s welcome mat.
  • President Joe Biden says infrastructure will be a priority this year. That’s more realistic than the previous administration’s announcements of infrastructure week which seemed to be promised 52 times but never happened.
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday ordered a review of the nonprofits that run the city’s $2 billion homeless shelter network, after a New York Times investigation of one operator’s chief executive who allegedly abused his power to reportedly enrich himself and his family and to sexually abuse women. But the city had known previously about the CEO’s family favoritism and conflicts of interest and at least one accusation of sexual harassment. How to describe that mayoral toughness – timely or it’s-about-time?
  • It turns out the otherwise-effective Oxford University-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine provides minimal protection against the South African variant of COVID-19. Which means the most confounding thing about the virus continues to be the way it is so darn confounding.
  • Rep. Liz Cheney, the House’s No.3 Republican who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump, said Sunday that Trump "does not have a role as a leader of our party going forward." Given where most of her colleagues are on this, Cheney’s statement sounded more like wishful thinking.
  • The United Kingdom COVID-19 variant is spreading rapidly in the United States, doubling its prevalence every 10 days, and is especially strong in Florida. Which might mean Sunday’s Super Bowl in Tampa might end up being super in a different way.
  • The Super Bowl was billed as a battle FOR the ages. Turned out to be a battle OF the ages, and old age won.
  • He held four Cabinet-level positions across two presidencies, was a voice of reason and sanity during tumultuous times, and stood up for the rule of law in the Nixon administration. RIP, George P. Schultz.

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie