After months of publicly weighing a challenge to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Republican Rep. Peter King announced Monday he will not seek New York’s Senate seat in 2010.
King had initially said in August 2009 that he wouldn’t be a candidate, but in December news outlets reported that King was being encouraged to run by former Bush adviser Karl Rove and New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox. King told POLITICO at the time that he would discuss a challenge with his family, but said chances still remained slim. But then earlier this month, King raised the specter of a Gillibrand challenge again, telling radio show host Don Imus, “Actually, I am looking at it.”
“During the past several weeks, however, a number of state and national leaders — as well as many friends and supporters — asked me to reconsider my decision,” King said in a statement. “While the political situation has changed dramatically in the Republicans’ favor since September and I believe that Sen. Gillibrand can and will be defeated in 2010, I will not be a candidate for the Senate.”
King said his position as ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee would prevent him from focusing his efforts on campaigning and fundraising, but he also said he is “increasingly confident” the GOP will retake the majority in 2010, likely making him homeland security chairman.
King’s decision leaves the GOP without a challenger against Gillibrand, who was appointed in January 2009 to fill the remainder of Hillary Clinton’s term when she left to become secretary of state.