Cilmi, Grechen-Shirley not running to fill King's seat

Posted 11/21/19

Legis. Tom Cilmi and Liuba Grechen Shirley decide not to run for the longtime congressman’s seat next year

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Cilmi, Grechen-Shirley not running to fill King's seat


Two potential candidates have decided not to run for Rep. Peter King’s (R-Seaford) post next year. Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-East Islip) announced his decision in a Facebook post on Friday, Nov. 15. 

“Friends… I know this will come as a disappointment for many,” the legislator wrote. “Despite my family’s undying support, after thinking and praying long and hard, I have decided that I will not run for Congress to fill Congressman King’s seat.” 

Cilmi, who also serves as the minority leader in the Suffolk County Legislature, said he was considering a run for King’s seat a few days after the longtime congressman announced he would not seek reelection at the end of his 14th term next year. 

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time,” Cilmi previously told this publication. “I hope, whatever the decision is, that Republicans will present a united front.”

In regards to his decision not to run, Cilmi said, “I want to thank so many of you who reached out with such profoundly meaningful and heartfelt words of encouragement. You will never know how much it means to me and my family. In some ways, your words helped make my decision.” 

Cilmi added, “I have been so blessed in life in so many ways, not the least of which is my job. When I think about my job, it’s all right here. When I think about the things I don’t like about my job, you can find them in abundance in Washington, D.C. So when I contemplated the years God has left for me on this planet, I asked myself, do I want to be among the things… the people… that I love, or do I want my entire life to be consumed by the dysfunction that unfortunately characterizes national politics?

“At the end of the day, it wasn’t a very difficult question to answer,” he continued. “Therefore, if it is the good Lord’s wish that I remain in politics… and I hope it is… it will remain in local politics, where the connection with all of you is most important, not second or third down the list. Thank you again for understanding and again, for your support. Words cannot possibly express my gratitude.” 

Cilmi was reelected to a sixth and final term in the Legislature earlier this month, with 9,700 votes (69.49 percent). 

Liuba Grechen Shirley, King’s most recent Democratic challenger, recently issued a statement expressing her interest in a second run for New York’s 2nd Congressional District. 

“As a mother, grassroots activist, and national childcare advocate, I know how much is at stake in the upcoming elections,” Grechen Shirley wrote. “The issues I focused my campaign on last year—from paid family leave and affordable health care to climate change and a woman’s right to choose—are still very much at the forefront of today’s political debate. I’ve heard from many encouraging supporters across the district, and with so much on the line for our community, I am seriously considering another run for Congress.”

But on Monday, Grechen Shirley announced she had changed her mind. “I’m thrilled to announce that [my husband] Chris and I are welcoming our third baby in April,” Grechen Shirley wrote on Twitter. “Today I’m also announcing I won’t be running for Congress in 2020. My last [two] deliveries were incredibly difficult and required long recovery periods, and I can’t run unless I know I can put 100 percent in,” she added. 

Grechen Shirley defeated Suffolk County’s presiding officer, Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Wyandanch), in last year’s Democratic primary and ran on a platform that advocated for universal health care, paid family leave, a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and implementing term limits for elected officials. 

If not them, then who?

New York Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) said he is talking with his wife about the possibility of running for Congress. “It’s something I’ve always considered,” he said. “It would be a great challenge, but I’m confident I could win.” 

Former Rep. Rick Lazio’s name has also been mentioned in numerous reports about the upcoming race for King’s seat. Lazio represented New York’s 2nd Congressional District from 1993 until 2000. He ran for U.S. Senate, in 2000, but lost to Hillary Clinton. Boyle was the campaign manager for Lazio’s congressional win in 1992. 

In addition, New York State assemblyman Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) said he’s considering a run for Congress. “I’ve been working in Albany for seven years and I feel I’m well prepared,” Garbarino said, noting that he already represents a good portion of the state’s 2nd Congressional District. 

“Peter King is a great congressman and I would have big shoes to fill,” the assemblyman added. He’s also confident that many others will be throwing their names into the race as the election comes closer. 

The most prominent Democratic contender is Babylon Town councilmember Jackie Gordon, who entered the race in May. 

“This district is in desperate need of new leadership and a representative who will do more for their constituents,” she tweeted shortly after King announced he was retiring. “I am ready to serve he people of Long Island in Washington.


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