WASHINGTON — Representative Peter T. King, the longest-serving Republican in New York’s congressional delegation, said on Monday that he would retire, joining a growing exodus of Republicans from Congress ahead of the 2020 elections.
Mr. King, who is currently serving his 14th term in the House, said in a statement that his decision was primarily motivated by the desire to end the weekly commute to Washington after nearly three decades and have “more flexibility” to spend time with his children and grandchildren.
“This was not an easy decision,” Mr. King said. “I intend to remain in Seaford, be active politically and look forward to seeing what opportunities and challenges await me in this next chapter of a very fortunate life.”
But the exit of Mr. King, 75, comes as a growing number of Republicans have decided to retire rather than seek re-election as they eye the grim political realities for their party, including an uphill slog to win back the House in next year’s election and the prospect of sharing a ticket with an unpopular president.
Mr. King is also the latest in a series of seasoned moderate lawmakers to decide to depart the House, a trend that will leave the next Congress with less expertise and experience, and with fewer members who can remember a time when they reached across party lines to enact bipartisan legislation. He built a reputation as one of the more moderate members of the Republican conference, but frequently took a hard line on immigration issues.
Mr. King is also the third New York lawmaker to announce his departure at the end of the 116th Congress, following two veteran Democrats, Representative José E. Serrano, the nation’s longest-tenured Hispanic congressman, and Representative Nita M. Lowey, the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee. (Representative Chris Collins, the fourth-term Republican who pleaded guilty to federal securities fraud charges, already departed the chamber earlier this year.
In his statement announcing his departure, Mr. King, a former chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, praised his work after the Sept. 11 attacks, helping to lead the storm recovery after Hurricane Sandy, and working with President Bill Clinton to negotiate the Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland.
But he emphasized that he intends to vote against any articles of impeachment brought against Mr. Trump, and to support his re-election bid, as Republicans seek to prevent any defections in the coming weeks.
“My time in Congress has been an extraordinary experience,” Mr. King said, reflecting on his childhood in Sunnyside and work as a college student at Manhattan’s West Side Railway Terminal. “I intend to remain in Seaford, be active politically and look forward to seeing what opportunities and challenges await me in this next chapter of a very fortunate life.
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