Rep. King tapped for Cuomo transition teamBy ELIZABETH MOORE
November 14, 2010
Add one more prominent Long Island Republican to the list of those tapped to help Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo's transition: Rep. Peter King, who will be in a prime spot to aid New York State when he is expected to return next year to chair the House Homeland Security Committee.
King, now the most senior New York Republican in Congress, said he had a long phone chat Friday with Cuomo, who jokingly called him "your royal excellency" and "your chairmanship" before asking him to serve on his public-safety transition committee.
"He wants to be cooperative throughout his term and make homeland security a bipartisan issue," King said. "I pledged to work with him as closely as I can."
Other Republicans advising the transition include Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and State Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos of Rockville Centre. Mangano said Saturday he was "proud to serve on the governor-elect's bipartisan team" and that he hoped to "focus on cutting taxes, reining in spending and jump-starting our economy."
Cuomo and King agreed they may compete for the same talent in building their staffs, but King said they share similar views when it comes to homeland security funding and policies. Most importantly, he said, "We're both opposed to the 9/11 trials being held in New York . . . That will have a lot of weight with the [Obama] administration."
King said he and Cuomo have always gotten along well, starting when Cuomo was at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and King was on the banking committee, and more recently with events like a joint news conference on student loans at Seaford High School, near King's home. Still, he said he appreciates the invitation from the state's most popular political figure.
"Here he is, with 62 percent of the vote, he's riding high. The fact that he would make a point of reaching out to a Republican to say this is not partisan . . . He realizes the threat against New York."
"Congressman King's expertise and leadership experience in counter terrorism will be invaluable as we put our public safety team together," a Cuomo transition source said.
It's premature to compare Cuomo's strategy to those of other governors, said Long Island Association president Kevin Law, who has served on seven transitions, including this one. But by inviting Republicans, Law believes Cuomo is "trying to send out a message that the times are challenging, and he has to have an open mind."
The most notable Long Island Republican not on Cuomo's list so far? Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who was encouraged by state GOP leaders to switch parties and run against Cuomo this year, but later passed over by the party committee members.
Levy said Thursday he was "hopeful that whoever is on the transition team will push for major fiscal reform and ensure that Long Island's best interests are a priority."