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NY Rep. Peter King Retiring, Presenting Dems With New Target

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., arrives for a classified briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 21, 2019.

Rep. Peter King, a moderate Republican who has represented a Long Island congressional district for nearly 30 years, announced Monday he won't seek reelection in 2020, presenting Democrats with a fresh suburban target in 2020 as they seek to defend their majority.

The decision comes days after voters flocked to Democratic candidates in state elections in Kentucky and Virginia, underscoring Republican vulnerability in a suburban revolt against President Donald Trump.

The 14-term congressman, 75, said in a Facebook post that he wants “flexibility to spend more time” with his children and grandchildren.

“The prime reason for my decision was that after 28 years of spending 4 days a week in Washington, D.C., it is time to end the weekly commute and be home in Seaford,” he wrote.

King's district includes southwestern Suffolk County and a portion of Nassau County, about an hour's drive east of Manhattan.

With King's retirement, Democrats seem certain to target the district in 2020. While the district went narrowly for Trump in 2016, many suburban districts around the country have been moving steadily toward Democrats as moderate, well-educated voters swing away from the polarizing president.

King, a former chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, has cultivated a reputation for bipartisanship while maintaining a hard line on immigration and crime. He is the longest-serving Republican member of New York's congressional delegation. Still, he won reelection in 2018 by just 6 percentage points.

Twenty House Republicans have announced they will not seek reelection. Three other GOP lawmakers have resigned and already left Congress.

House Democrats retook the majority in 2018, and are looking to defend their majority and grab new seats in suburban districts in what they see as a backlash against Trump.

Only a handful of the Republican-held districts being vacated by retirements are expected to be seriously competitive next year. But King's district will be one of them, underscoring GOP vulnerability in suburban areas, spotlighted last week as suburban voters in Virginia and Kentucky flocked to Democratic candidates in elections for state offices.