Elections in the Third Congressional District, which covers half of Nassau County and a slice of Suffolk along the South Shore, are usually yawners, with Democrats meekly stepping up to be stomped upon by the Republican incumbent, Peter King. He has not had a close race since his first, in 1992.
This year might be different. The Democrat David Mejias, is waging a lively campaign, brandishing his credentials as a member of the Nassau County Legislature and seeking to ride what he says is a general wave of disgust with Washington, with Congress and with President Bush.
Mr. King is the last Republican standing in Long Island ’s Congressional delegation, and judging from his lonely pugilistic persona, he just might like it that way. Many voters warm to his belligerence, believing it denotes independence and truthfulness.
Those in its receiving end of his rhetorical bombardments are surely less charmed. He has blisteringly belittled many, from constituents criticizing Mr. Bush’s Social Security plan to Catholic clergy members who condemned Mr. King’s immigration bill and got a lecture in return about pedophile priests and an admonition to go to confession.
(The Times was also in Mr. King’s cross hairs, for writing – treasonously, he says – about a secret terrorist-surveillance program.)
We do not support Mr. King, but not because he wants us in jail. Our decision has to do with temperament, effectiveness and differences on issues from taxes and Iraq to abortion and immigration.
Mr. King does not get everything wrong. As chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Mr. King has been a vocal defender of New York ’s interests in anti-terrorism funding. But he has also stood in zealous opposition to abortion rights and in support of Mr. Bush’s harmful tax-cutting policies, and he has been an enabler of Mr. Bush’s go-it-alone defiance of Congress, courts and the Constitution in waging the war on terrorism.
Mr. King also lost us with his singular devotion to hard-line immigration enforcement measures, particularly the bill he co-sponsored that would make felons of people giving charity to illegal immigrants.
Mr. Mejias is one of the few bright bulbs in the low-watt Nassau Legislature. He helped to create a bill of rights for domestic workers in Nassau , requiring that employers give them written statement of their rights under federal and state law. He has a good environmental record, particularly in efforts to preserve open space, and has been an important ally of County Executive Thomas Suozzi in restoring fiscal discipline to Nassau government. He promises to be a refreshing change in the Third District, and we endorse him.
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