Rep. Peter King has won re-election to Congress for the ninth straight time as unofficial election returns in the 3rd Congressional District show King soundly defeating teacher Howard Kudler.
King, R-Seaford, captured 71.7 percent of the vote against the Merrick Democrat with all precincts reporting. King's largest margin of victory in an election was in 2002, when he received 71.9 percent of the vote.
"As things look now, I will be going back as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee," King said to thunderous applause at his campaign headquarters in Massapequa Tuesday night.
King, who was first elected to Congress in 1992, made clear throughout the campaign that he was not only running here on Long Island, but also on a national level. He got exactly what he wanted on both levels with Republicans now set to take control of the House of Representatives.
"Two years ago, Barack Obama was going to be in for life, the Democrats had a permanent majority, we were finished as party," King added. "The reality is tonight it is all over for Nancy Pelosi, she will be gone."
Kudler, who has been a social studies teacher in New York City for the past 26 years, suffers his second electoral defeat; he lost to Dave McDonough in a race for State Assembly in 2008.
Kudler insisted throughout the campaign that the race was close. Speaking in Merrick last month, he said a Newsday poll showed he was even with King. A Newsday political reporter later told Patch that poll did not exist. (Editor's note: Kudler told Patch Wednesday he was referring to this reader poll on Newsday.com.)
King and Kudler crossed paths only once during the campaign at a News 12 debate last month. Kudler, who did not return e-mails or calls seeking comment Tuesday, had criticized King for not appearing at several candidates' forums and debates in recent weeks.
"I respect anyone who gets into the ring of politics," King said of Kudler after the Republican's re-election became clear. "I've been on the other side. I ran for attorney general 24 years ago and lost by a million and a half votes. He got in the ring. He fought it out. I give him credit."
Asked about Kudler's recent statement in which he said King "has acted as a terrorist collaborator hiding in plain sight," referring to King's past ties with the Irish Republican Army, the Congressman brushed off the controversy.
"Near the end, he made some wild charges," King said. "That doesn't bother me. Whenever we met, he was a nice guy and that's good enough for me."
On Tuesday night, more than 100 people packed into King campaign headquarters, which was decorated with the regalia of a long, powerful tenure in Congress.
Photos of King with former President George W. Bush, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Arizona Senator John McCain were plastered on the wall, along with numerous items touting King's fight against terrorism.
Buddy Bracco, of Massapequa, said the choice between King and Kudler wasn't really much of a choice.
"He's a great guy, a straight shooter," Bracco said of King. "I hope he becomes head of Homeland Security."
King said his main goal over the next two years will be to reign in federal spending, which he said is now out of control because of a "massive overreach" by President Barack Obama, referring namely to the stimulus plan and new health care law.
"I've never seen such a turnabout in two years from where he was," King said of Obama. "We were all hoping the President would do a much better job than he's done."
Despite the resounding victory Tuesday, King is ever mindful of the fickle nature of the electorate.
"It's a vote of confidence by the voters," King said, "but it also puts responsibility on me to make sure I continue to get the job done and keep my commitment to the voters."Candidates Votes % Precincts Reported King 99,580 100 Kudler 39,188 100