Rep. Peter King (Credit: AP)

He won’t win but Peter King is precisely the type of straight shooter that the GOP need to hear from in the next presidential race.

He could be the next John McCain, the man who tells truth to his own side.

King is a maverick and all the more interesting for it.

I have known him for about two decades and apart from a falling out over immigration (he has seen the light lately) we have been good friends.

King has that individualistic streak almost extinct in American politics. He has worked very hard on the Irish American agenda and helped bring peace to Northern Ireland.

He was once so committed to Irish nationalism that when President Reagan visited Long Island the Secret Service would not let King attend the event, labelling him an extremist threat.

He voted against President Clinton’s impeachment, partly because of Clinton’s work on Ireland, partly because Peter knew it was the wrong thing to do.

History has borne that truth out.

He stood up to the Tea Party fanatics especially when they blocked aid to the New York/New Jersey area after Hurricane Sandy.

It was astonishing, especially as many of those objecting had received huge federal funds in their own areas. Pete called them out on their hypocrisy.

Pete will tell inconvenient truths such as he did when questioned the other day about whether he would run.

He told the truth that the the Tea Party had dragged the GOP so far to the right that they would never win another presidential election unless they moved to the center.

He’s a blue collar Catholic Republican strong on faith and values, but liberal on working rights - very rare these days.

He is also one of the poorest members of Congress, no fancy income on the side, or family wealth, not a taint of scandal.

He has been great on Ireland, the first member of Congress to question why the powers that be did not talk to Sinn Fein on the grounds that talking was better than war. He was proved right when that policy worked.

He is also good value for a night out, not a political automaton, but a funny genuinely likeable character who does some mean imitations. His description of bringing Senator Al D’Amato to Northern Ireland at the height of The Troubles and how the petrified senator ended up sharing his room deserved to be on Saturday Night Live

All in all, a flesh and blood pol, in hock to none, overbearing, bombastic at times but always direct and straightforward.

The kind of person in other words who could never become president. But he’d sure puncture a few egos and talk directly to the heart and soul of the GOP if he tried.

Run Pete, Run!