Peter King, a long-time GOP Congressman from Long Island, New York, is now the target of Democrats’ redistricting efforts that will take effect in 2012 after the results of the 2010 Census is complete. The New York Post’s Elizabeth Benjamin reports on the story:
Democrats have Pete King in the cross hairs.
National and state party officials are plotting to weaken King, one of New York‘s three remaining Republican congressmen, by redrawing the lines of his Long Island district.
The next round of redistricting, in which the congressional lines will be reconfigured based on the 2010 census results, is more than two years away.
Still, Democrats are planning an overhaul of King’s district in hopes of making him easier to beat in 2012.
Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to get rid of King for years.
The outspoken conservative, who was first elected to the House in 1992, has emerged as one of the most visible – and viable – members of the beleaguered state GOP and is often touted as a potential statewide contender.
A source close to Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith confirmed “serious discussions” between Democrats in New York and Washington are underway about King’s district.
“It’s an obvious choice because of the population of the area,” he said.
Long Island was once a Republican stronghold, but it has been trending Democratic since the last census.
The GOP still has a 46,072-voter enrollment edge in King’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Nassau and Suffolk counties.
The number of Democrats has grown faster since the last redistricting, with 16,843 voters added to their ranks since 2001, compared with the Republicans’ 1,336.
King isn’t concerned about being on the Democratic hit list.
“This is dream talk,” he said. “It’s three years from now. I don’t know if I’ll even be alive.”
King, 65, has at times flirted with seeking a statewide office. He ran unsuccessfully for attorney general in 1986 and has been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor or even U.S. senator.
King said he had been “99% sure” to challenge Caroline Kennedy had Gov. Paterson picked her and not former Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton‘s old Senate seat.
He said he’ll make a decision by Labor Day, but sounds all but certain to seek reelection for his House seat.
New York’s upstate population loss has caused the state to grow more slowly compared with other states.
As a result, it has consistently lost House seats and is poised to lose at least one, and possibly two, in the next redistricting.
The Democrats‘ ability to control redistricting hinges on whether they hold onto the Senate majority next fall.
New York’s House members are increasingly worried that Paterson, with his historically low poll numbers, will drag down the 2010 ticket, returning the state Senate to the GOP.
“If this was 2014, [Paterson] would be able to ride it out,” a congressional source said. “But never underestimate the power of self-interest of members of Congress with redistricting looming.”