12/10/10 2:40pm
12/10/2010 2:40 PM

ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO | The final vote count in the 1st District race for Congress shows incumbent Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) defeated Republican challenger Randy Altschuler by 588 votes, according to the Bishop campaign.

The final vote count in the 1st District race for Congress shows incumbent Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) defeated Republican challenger Randy Altschuler by 592 votes, according to the Bishop campaign.

The final tally saw Mr. Bishop receive 98,316 votes to 97,723 counted for the St. James businessman.

Mr. Bishop won by just .3 percent of the total vote.

Editor’s note: Below is Wednesday’s coverage of Mr. Altschuler’s concession:

Republican challenger Randy Altschuler conceded Wednesday morning that he had lost his bid to unseat Congressman Tim Bishop, who will go on to a fifth two-year term in Washington ­— the first time in more than 30 years that an East End congressman will have served more than four terms.

The announcement came with Mr. Bishop (D-Southampton) ahead of the St. James businessman by 263 votes after both campaigns battled it out in the courts for more than a month after Election Day.

“After consulting with my family and campaign staff, I am ending my campaign and offering congratulations to Congressman Tim Bishop on his victory,” Mr. Altschuler said in a statement.

He continued: “Although Newsday, The New York Times and the Bishop campaign have all called for a hand recount of all the ballots cast on Election Day, I will not support such an action as I feel its cost will place an unnecessary burden on the taxpayers of Suffolk County.

Mr. Altschuler called Congressman Bishop Wednesday morning to concede and has formally withdrawn his remaining ballot challenges. Within the hour, Suffolk County Board of Elections officials were to begin counting all the remaining ballots so that Mr. Bishop’s win could be certified.

In his statement, Mr. Altschulter said he had entered the race “because I was worried about the future of our nation. The problems America faces are many and will not be easily solved. I plan to stay active in politics and continue to speak out on the issues that affect the residents of Suffolk County, our state and our nation. Those issues include high taxes, runaway spending and an ever-growing deficit. I intend to play an active role in building the Republican and Conservative Party voices in both Suffolk County and New York State.”

Despite charges of voter fraud, which included reports from the Altschuler camp and on FoxNews that registered voters in New York City with vacation homes on the East End had cast absentee ballots in the race here, the numbers weren’t adding up for Mr. Altschuler.

With Mr. Bishop up consistently by about 250 votes during the count of 11,500 absentee ballots, and the number of contested ballots being whittled down by the day — through either concessions or a judge’s orders — it became clear that Mr. Altschuler’s chances for a turnaround were fading.

Mr. Bishop’s top aide, Jon Schneider, said on Tuesday, “If our lead is larger than the number of challenges we’re holding, the only way Altschuler can come back is to open up challenges he’s holding. But the more we open, the more Bishop goes up. I think that we feel pretty confident of where we’re at at this point. Obviously, I like the trend lines.”

Both sides had been riding a roller coaster ever since election night, when preliminary tallies had Mr. Bishop up by about 3,500 votes. But a re-canvassing of the optical voting machines, used for the first time in a Suffolk County general election, put him behind his challenger by 383 votes.

Mr. Altschuler watched that lead vanish once the week-long process of counting 11,500 absentee and affidavit ballots ended after the Thanksgiving break, leaving Mr. Bishop up by 235. Ever since, the congressman’s lead has grown.

Mr. Schneider said Mr. Bishop’s reelection during a tough time for Democrats was a testament to his hard work on behalf of the 1st Congressional District, which stretches from Smithtown to Orient and Montauk.

Mr. Schneider, noting that although Republicans outnumber Democrats “in the absentee universe” Mr. Bishop had picked up 650 votes in the absentee count, said the facts showed “that the congressman has strong bipartisan support throughout this district.”

“The fact that Tim Bishop was able to hold on against a guy who spent $4 million in a heavily Republican district is a testament that he works very hard and delivers to eastern Long Island,” Mr. Schneider said, “and it appears he’ll have the opportunity to do that for another two years.”

No 1st District congressman since Otis Pike of Riverhead, a Democrat, has served more than four terms, all but one, who retired, knocked from office by challengers. Mr. Pike served nine terms before retiring in 1978. Mr. Bishop was first elected in 2002. His new fifth term will expire at the end of 2012, so if he were to seek a sixth term, he would run again in a presidential election year.

Asked how GOP fever that swept the nation on Election Day failed to tip a traditional Republican district back into the GOP’s hands, Desmond Ryan, a longtime political lobbyist and expert on Long Island politics, echoed some of Mr. Schneider’s statements.

“The difficulty [for the Republicans] here was, if I have to pick a product by the community, of the community and for the community, Tim Bishop is it,” he said.

As for Mr. Altschuler, a newcomer to Suffolk County who took something of a beating during the GOP primary campaign, Mr. Ryan said his loss follows a political trend in itself.

“It’s been a situation from the get-go with Altschuler pouring enough of his personal fortune into the race, and Bishop using his power of the incumbency very effectively,” Mr. Ryan said. “But nine times out of 10, people who try to buy the election fail … Why? Because nobody else has any skin in the game. If I write you a check, I’m vested in you; I care. But if it’s all your own money, what’s in it for me if you win?”

[email protected]

12/01/10 2:04pm
12/01/2010 2:04 PM



Randy Altschuler



With Republican Dan Losquadro declared the winner in the state’s 1st Assembly District race, the prolonged battle between Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop and his Republican challenger, businessman Randy Altschuler, remains the only undecided race in the region. And the last undecided congressional race in the country.

At last report Thursday, Mr. Bishop was leading Mr. Altschuler by 259 votes.

The race will likely be decided by a state Supreme Court judge who arrived at the Board of Elections in Yaphank about 3 p.m. Wednesday to start making calls on contested absentee ballots sent to the district by mail.

Some 71 military ballots, which had to be in officials’ hands by Nov. 24, were counted Tuesday, which narrowed Mr. Bishop’s lead over Mr. Altschuler’s by 20 votes. The candidates’ camps then agreed to concede a total of 418 previously contested absentee ballots — 209 each — and that ended up adding 32 votes to Mr. Bishop’s lead, according to the incumbent’s spokesman, Jon Schneider. Mr. Bishop then picked up an additional 12 votes after the judge made his first ruling Wednesday, allowing 161 paper ballots that for various reasons weren’t scanned on Election Day to count in the race.

Both sides have had a roller coaster ride since election night, when preliminary tallies had Mr. Bishop up by about 3,500 votes. Then a re-canvassing of the optical voting machines, used for the first time in a Suffolk County general election, put him behind his challenger by 383 votes. But Mr. Altschuler watched that lead vanish after the week-long process of counting some 11,500 absentee and affidavit ballots wrapped up last Tuesday, leaving Mr. Bishop up by 235.
Both camps agreed Thursday to allow an additional 52 ballots be counted, 29 that were being contested by Mr. Bishop and 23 by Mr. Altschuler.
Of the 1,473 still-contested ballots that were awaiting the judge’s review, 1,123 were being challenged by the Republican side and 510 by the Democrats.

A required audit of 3 percent of voting machines has revealed no problems with the equipment, officials said.

And while Mr. Bishop appeared ready to declare victory, the rival camp’s suspicions of voter fraud have prompted Republicans to stay and fight — leaving the outcome up to the judge and the court system.

Rob Ryan, Mr. Altschuler’s campaign spokesman, said the courts have subpoena power to require that a voter prove his or her residency in the district, something Board of Elections commissioners can’t do.

Mr. Ryan estimated Mr. Bishop’s lead to actually be closer to 150 votes, considering the Democrats have challenged the votes of some 94 Republican poll inspectors who voted outside the district.

“We should get them back,” Mr. Ryan said of those votes, adding that he expected to see “a lot of contested ballots” end up in the hands of the judge.
He said that, above all, Mr. Altschuler wants to be sure that only the votes of people who can legally vote in the district are counted.

“The Bishop campaign put out their stuff yesterday saying they wanting to close things down,” Mr. Ryan said. “But two short weeks ago [when Mr. Bishop appeared down], they were calling for a hand recount of every single ballot. And now for some reason they don’t want to wait until this residency issue is dealt with, and the possibility of widespread fraud.”

Potential voter fraud was outlined by FoxNews.com writer Eric Shawn in a report earlier this week. According to the FoxNews story, 48 of the 438 absentee ballot voters “reviewed” by the Fox News Voter Fraud Unit were cast via absentee ballot in Suffolk by people who “are also listed as ‘active’ voters on the New York City rolls. Being registered in two separate jurisdictions is illegal and is a felony in New York State.

“In addition, our investigation reveals that one absentee ballot was apparently submitted in the name of a Democratic voter enrolled in Suffolk County, while election records at the Board of Elections in New York City show that the same voter voted, on Election Day, in Manhattan.”

The story did not name the voter in question. Mr. Altschuler’s campaign circulated the FoxNews report by e-mail Tuesday.

Mr. Bishop’s spokesman called the fraud allegations “nonsense.”

“We’re not saying Altschuler should concede,” he said. “We’re just saying let’s open the ballots and count the votes,” Mr. Schneider said. “And this FoxNews thing is nonsense. Great, you found one guy who voted twice, but let’s move on. Show me two, show me 10, show me 50 who voted twice.”
He said that no votes had been counted on Thursday, and that the judge wouldn’t be back to the Board of Elections until Wednesday, “so there goes another week.”

“I’m sure there’s not going to be any movement unless they start dropping [contested] ballots,” he added. “We want to all get on with our lives. I’m not worried about the outcome of this election; I’m worried that I’m going to be here on Christmas.”

Mr. Bishop, of Southampton, is seeking his fifth two-year term in office. No 1st District congressman since Otis Pike of Riverhead, a Democrat, has served more than four terms. Mr. Pike served nine terms before retiring in 1978.

As for the state Assembly race, which dragged on exactly three weeks after Election Day Nov. 2, Democrat Marc Alessi conceded to Mr. Losquadro last Wednesday after it appeared he could not make up the more than 800 votes by which he trailed. Both men are residents of Shoreham.

“It has been an absolute privilege to serve the residents of the First Assembly District over the past five years,” Mr. Alessi said in a statement sent just after 4 p.m. last Wednesday. “I’ve taken the state’s problems home with me, internalized them and tried to help — both on the large scale and individually — one constituent at a time.”

In his statement, Mr. Alessi blamed Albany dysfunction for his loss and touted his record in office.

“For five years, I worked tirelessly for the hardworking families of Suffolk and kept my pledges to the people who elected me. I will forever be proud of that,” he said. “While I accomplished much of what I set out to do for Suffolk, there is still more work to be done.”
The attorney said he would focus on his family, as his wife, Gretchen, is expecting the couple’s third child in January.

The two candidates were separated by just 40 votes on election night but Mr. Losquadro increased his lead after election night results were verified and corrected and also during the absentee ballot count.

Mr. Losquadro’s win sets up a special election to finish out the final year of his term in the county Legislature, where he serves as minority leader. Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner has been reported as a possible Republican/Conservative nominee to replace Mr. Losquadro, whom she served four years as a legislative aide before seeking her first public office in 2007.

A source in the Democratic Party did not rule out the possibility of Mr. Alessi pursuing the county seat.

The third local race this year was not a close one, with longtime incumbent Republican state Senator Kenneth LaValle of Port Jefferson trouncing Democratic challenger Jennifer Maertz of Rocky Point, taking 67 percent of the vote.

[email protected]

11/25/10 2:56am
11/25/2010 2:56 AM

Assemblyman-elect Dan Losquadro

Dan Losquadro has been declared the winner in the race for the 1st Assembly District after Democratic incumbent Marc Alessi conceded this afternoon.

“It has been an absolute privilege to serve the residents of the First Assembly District over the past five years,” Mr. Alessi said in a statement sent just after 4 p.m. Wednesday. “I’ve taken the state’s problems home with me, internalized them and tried to help — both on the large scale and individually — one constituent at a time.”

In the statement, Mr. Alessi blamed Albany dysfunction for his loss and touted his record in office.

“For five years, I worked tirelessly for the hardworking families of Suffolk and kept my pledges to the people who elected me. I will forever be proud of that,” he said. “While I accomplished much of what I set out to do for Suffolk, there is still more work to be done.”

The attorney said he will now focus on his family, as his wife Gretchen is expecting the couple’s third child in January.

Mr. Loqsuadro had urged his opponent to concede since as of this week he held an 830 vote lead with just 1,000 absentee ballots still to be counted.

Mr. Alessi had said Monday evening that he wouldn’t concede until after the Suffolk County Board of Elections finishes certifying the vote.

The two candidates were separated by just 40 votes on election night but Mr. Losquadro increased his lead after the election night results were verified and corrected, and during the absentee ballot count.

Mr. Losquadro’s win sets up a special election to finish out the final year of his term in the County Legislature, where he serves as minority leader.

Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner has been reported as a possible Republican/Conservative nominee to replace Mr. Losquadro, whom she served four years as a legislative aide prior to seeking her first public office in 2007.

A source in the Democratic Party did not rule out the possibility of Mr. Alessi pursuing the county seat.

11/23/10 8:42pm
11/23/2010 8:42 PM

ROBERT OROURK FILE PHOTO | Tim Bishop, pictured here on election night is leading at the close of absentee ballot counting.

Incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop opened up a 235-vote lead over the GOP’s Randy Altschuler as the counting of absentee and affidavit ballots in New York’s 1st Congressional District race wound down Tuesday.

Mr. Altschuler, a St. James businessman, watched his lead of almost 400 votes dissolve after counting began last Tuesday, with Mr. Bishop taking the lead by more than 200 votes Monday afternoon, then making further gains on that margin. Counting of the 11,500 such ballots cast in the congressional race was completed Tuesday afternoon.

“We are very confident that Tim Bishop has won this election,” said Mr. Bishop’s spokesman, Jon Schneider.

Still, the race is by no means decided. Both parties have been directed to appear next Tuesday in Suffolk County Supreme Court to address the some 2,000 challenged ballots, which did not count toward Tuesday’s final tally — including absentee, affidavit and Election Day votes — that had Mr. Bishop ahead by 97,050 to 96,815 votes, Mr. Schneider said.

Mr. Altschuler did not appear ready to concede the contested ballots, and with that the race. As of Tuesday afternoon, the GOP had contested about 1,260 votes while the Democratic camp had contested 790.

“We’re going to evaluate everything and stay progressive in how we’re going to proceed,” Mr. Altschuler’s spokesman, Rob Ryan, said Tuesday — just hours before the final reported tally — about contesting individual ballots and the prospect of a recount. The candidate had been fighting the potential for a hand count when he was leading by 400 votes. “I don’t want to speculate about that at this point,” Mr. Ryan said, but noted that an editorial in Tuesday’s New York Times did call for hand recounts in all yet-to-be decided races in the state, even though they are costly.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bishop, of Southampton, who is seeking his fifth two-year term, headed to Orlando, Fla., Tuesday for his annual family vacation to Disney World.

“Mr. Bishop could be riding on Space Mountain as we speak. We feel good about where this is going,” Mr. Schneider said. “Given that every day we’ve been counting we’ve been picking up votes and given they have 471 more objections than we do. When you consider both sides will get an equal amount of objections dismissed, we feel we have more than 400 votes in the bank.”

Both sides have experienced a roller coaster ride since election night, when preliminary tallies by election workers had Mr. Bishop up about 3,500 votes. A recanvassing of the optical voting machines, used for the first time in a Suffolk County general election, showed he was actually down by 383. And an ongoing audit of 3 percent of voting machines has shown no problems with the equipment.

But that doesn’t mean voters weren’t confused going into the booth, where they were supposed to use a pen to fill in circles next to candidate names. Some voters reported drawing X’s or checkmarks or circling candidates’ names.

The reported confusion could be enough to result in a hand recount, though Mr. Altschuler’s side has argued that the law wouldn’t allow for it without specific grounds, such as a machine audit that found problems with the devices.

The media are updated on the count by campaign managers, as county Board of Election officials in Yaphank won’t provide information until the vote is official.

Neither side would speculate Tuesday as to when a final determination would be made.

“It’s been a seesaw since election night,” said veteran lobbyist Desmond Ryan (no relation to Rob Ryan), who has been watching the 1st Congressional District race closely. “The question now begs, at the end of the day, with such a large number of contested ballots, does it go to court or can it reach some resolve with the Board of Elections?”

Throughout the week-long count of absentee and affidavit ballots, the two sides have been sparring. Mr. Altschuler’s camp has accused the Democrats of contesting military ballots as well as those cast by poll workers and multi-millionaires who have only summer residences in Suffolk County.

Rob Ryan e-mailed a press release to media Monday that read: “We will not let Tim Bishop steal this election.”

Mr. Schneider has repeatedly said the Altschuler campaign’s contested votes came as “part of a game” to make it appear the race was closer than it actually was. “I think it’s a joke; it’s offensive that they think they could be the arbiters who can and cannot vote in this country,” Mr. Schneider said.

Votes from Mr. Bishop’s parents, who sent in absentee ballots from Florida, and the college student son of lame duck state Senator Brian Foley (D-Blue Point), also cropped up as topics of squabbling during the ballot fight.

As for the possible hand recount, Desmond Ryan said, “It boils down to this: Were there problems with the machines? Yes. Large problems? No. Was there some confusion among the senior populations? Yes. So you want to get it right; no matter how long the process takes, the electorate deserves a proper decision.

“The ironic factor in all this,” he continued, “is that the reason so much money was spent on these voting machines was so we would have a paper trail but we wouldn’t have dangling chads,” as in the 2000 presidential election in Florida.

“But we still have two congressional candidates dangling in the wind.”

[email protected]

11/22/10 3:43pm
11/22/2010 3:43 PM


Dan Losquadro

Assembly candidate Dan Losquadro is urging Marc Alessi to concede in the race for the 1st Assembly District, but the incumbent isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet.

Mr. Losquadro, who holds an 830 vote lead with just 1,000 absentee ballots still to be counted, said in a press release Sunday that he believes Mr. Alessi has “no real chance of winning” at this point.

“After all of the Shelter Island, Riverhead and Southold absentee ballots, affidavits and emergency ballots were counted I still hold over an 800 vote lead,”  Mr. Losquadro (R-Shoreham) said.  “With only Brookhaven left to count—an area where I did extremely well in and a place where I should add to my vote total—I feel that Marc should concede the race on Monday so that our offices can begin the transition process.”

In order to maintain his seat in the Assembly, Mr. Alessi (D-Shoreham) would need to secure 90 percent of the remaining absentee ballots, but he said Monday evening that he won’t concede until after the Suffolk County Board of Elections finishes certifying the vote.

“Ballots are still being counted and several hundred more have been set aside yet to be counted,” Mr. Alessi said in a statement. “Every vote is equally important, and to simply ignore uncounted votes to hasten the process is an insult to the residents of the 1st Assembly District. I will let the Board of Elections let me know who won the race first.”

The two candidates were separated by just 40 votes on election night but Mr. Losquadro increased his lead after the election night results were verified and corrected, and during the absentee ballot count.

A Losquadro win would set up a special election to finish out the final year of his term in the County Legislature, where he serves as minority leader.

Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner has been reported as a possible Republican/Conservative nominee to replace Mr. Losquadro, whom she served four years as a legislative aide prior to seeking her first public office in 2007.

A source in the Democratic Party did not rule out the possibility of Mr. Alessi pursuing the county seat, should Mr. Losquadro’s lead hold up.

11/10/10 5:13am
11/10/2010 5:13 AM

We’re not quite back to the days of dimpled, hanging or pregnant chads, but we’re close.
Remember those arcane terms? They refer to the tiny paper discs left behind by Florida’s punch card voting machines after the polls closed in Florida during the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. With the presidency hanging in the balance, those little bits of paper, which some said left a voter’s intentions in doubt, were key in determining the winner of Florida’s 25 electoral votes. Whoever took Florida would take the White House in the closest presidential election since 1876.
Through a split decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, those electoral votes went to Mr. Bush, making him the 43rd president. A full decade has passed, but Gore supporters still fervently believe that the GOP stole the election.
To prevent a similar occurrence in future elections, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, ironically signed by Mr. Bush in 2002. Its purpose? To replace punch cards as well as lever machines, which have been used in Suffolk County for generations but were considered problematic because they left no record of individual votes.
That brings us to this past Election Day, the first full-scale test of the county’s new electronic vote counters. As everyone who voted now knows, the process requires using a pen to fill in the circle next to candidates’ names and sliding the paper ballot into the tabulator. Fortunately, that system leaves no hanging or pregnant chads, but it caused considerable confusion nonetheless.
Some voters simply made a check mark, which doesn’t register in the machines. Others mistakenly marked two or more candidates for the same race, also not valid. Whether this system will ultimately prove to be fair and accurate remains to be seen. But there’s no doubt that it’s far from perfect.
The races for the First Congressional and First Assembly districts attest to that. On election night, incumbent Congressman Tim Bishop seemed to enjoy a solid 3,500-vote lead over Republican challenger Randy Altschuler. But a second look by the Board of Elections resulted in a 4,000-vote swing in Altschuler’s favor. Similarly, Assemblyman Marc Alessi was initially down by just 40 votes, but the gap has since widened significantly.
It will take time, but the only fair and logical response is to hand-count each ballot — that is, before the lawyers bring it all to court. Perhaps we need a Help Suffolk Vote Act to prevent a repeat next year.

11/10/10 4:49am

With a new paper ballot system in place for its first general election, the Suffolk County Board of Elections knew it was in for a trying Election Day this year.
The troubles started early, with some residents having difficulty figuring out the new way to cast their votes. And the problems ended late, with many election districts not reporting final results until after midnight.
But nobody expected things to be this out of whack.
More than a week later, a winner has yet to be determined in a pair of local races that have seen major vote swings during the vote-counting process.
On election night, Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) went to sleep with a lead of nearly 3,500 votes. By Friday, after the memory cards in each of the voting machines had been double-checked, he learned that he trailed Republican challenger Randy Altschuler of St. James by about 400 votes.
Assembly candidate Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham) left headquarters with only a 40 vote lead last Tuesday over incumbent Democrat Marc Alessi. When contacted Saturday, he said he now led by nearly 900 votes.
How could that be?
“If you know the process, you know how it can happen,” said Wayne Rogers, Republican commissioner for the Suffolk County Board of Elections.
That’s because human error can enter into the equation on election night. Results are phoned in by poll workers who read them off a tally sheet before entering them onto a worksheet. The person on the other end of the phone then keys the numbers into a computer and publishes them online.
With a new system in place, it is widely believed that workers had a more difficult time reading the tally sheet this year. And if that was the case, it wasn’t just a handful of workers having difficulty.
“The information we’ve received shows different numbers now than on election night in 38 percent of election districts,” said Bishop spokesperson Jon Schneider. “It’s not like there are only 10 election districts that wildly shifted.”
In the Assembly race, Mr. Losquadro said he picked up votes in several districts that had Mr. Alessi ahead by a wide margin.
“I knew my numbers were going to move,” he said. “When you see some election districts that had 92 percent or 86 percent for Alessi, you figure you’ll gain some votes there. I didn’t see any anomalies like that where I was leading big.”
The dramatic shift now has local Democrats, who have lost nearly 5,000 votes since election day in the two races, calling for a hand recount. Republicans have not expressed support for that, insisting any errors were not the fault of the new machines. Lawsuits were expected to be filed by Democrats early this week demanding the hand recount.
“At this point the only way to be sure of the accuracy of the count is to do a full hand recount of all the ballots,” said Mr. Schneider, who also serves as chairman of the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee. “There is a reason that Suffolk County residents insisted on having a paper backup and these circumstances demand we use it.”
It was a far cry from the tone of the Bishop camp last week, when they all but declared victory.
“The only people who think this race is ‘too close to call’ are on Randy Altschuler’s payroll,” Mr. Schneider said the Wednesday after Election Day. “Tim Bishop is leading by a solid margin, which will only grow as we count absentee ballots.”
Altschuler spokesperson Rob Ryan said the results now show the Altschuler camp had been right all along in its decision to not concede.
“We knew the Bishop team had jumped the gun on claiming victory,” he said.
On Monday, the Board of Elections began its state-mandated audit of 3 percent of all machines, according to Mr. Rogers. Absentee and military ballots won’t even be counted for another week. There are bout 9,500 absentee ballots in play in the congressional race.
Mr. Ryan said he believes a winner will not be declared in the congressional race until the end of the month.
Mr. Rogers, speaking in a Board of Elections building “filled with lawyers,” declined to estimate when the 2010 election finally would be over.
“We have a lot still to do,” he said.
[email protected]

11/05/10 9:34pm
11/05/2010 9:34 PM

Dan Losquadro

Assembly candidate Dan Losquadro said Saturday that he believes he has defeated incumbent Marc Alessi (D-Shoreham), after a Suffolk County Board of Elections recanvassing has him leading by nearly 900 votes.
Mr. Losquadro, who said he was cautiously optimistic he would win after the first count Tuesday night, said he is now “confident” he will be declared winner when the final results become official.
“I don’t know if his camp is ready to concede or not, but I’m confident it’s not going to change from here,” Mr. Losquadro said.
Preliminary Board of Elections results had Mr. Losquadro ahead by just 40 votes when the polls closed Tuesday. But the Republican candidate, who currently serves as minority leader in the Suffolk County Legislature,  said he picked up votes in several districts that had Mr. Alessi ahead by a wide margin.
“I knew my numbers were going to move,” he said. ” When you see some election districts that had 92 percent or 86 percent for Alessi, you figure you’ll gain some votes there. I didn’t see any anomalies like that where I was leading big.”
Mr. Alessi did not immediately return a call for comment.
[email protected]

11/05/10 9:19pm

Randy Altschuler

A  recount by the Suffolk County Board of Elections now has Congressman Tim Bishop’s Republican challenger Randy Altschuler pulling ahead by about 400 votes in the race for New York’s 1st Congressional District, according to both camps.
After polls closed Tuesday, the BOE listed Mr. Bishop as having nearly a 3,500 vote lead over Mr. Altschuler. However, a recanvassing of the machines show that Mr. Altschuler now has a slight lead.
The results shifted after the Board of Elections finished downloading the electronic results directly from the new electronic voting machines. Previous results could have been altered through human error, as they were reported from individual polling places.
“This happens,” said Altschuler spokesperson Rob Ryan. “Especially with these new machines.”
Mr. Ryan said an official winner may not be declared until the end of the month. Military ballots are not due until Nov. 24.
Bishop spokesperson Jon Schneider said the congressman would like to see a recount by hand.
“At this point the only way to be sure of the accuracy of the count is to do a full hand recount of all the ballots, ” he said in a telephone interview Saturday. “There is a reason that Suffolk County residents insisted on having a paper backup and these circumstances demand we use it.”
It was a far cry from the tone of the Bishop camp Wednesday, when they all but declared victory.
“”The only people who think this race is ‘too close to call’ are on Randy Altschuler’s payroll,” Mr. Schneider said Wednesday. “Tim Bishop is leading by a solid margin, which will only grow as we count absentee ballots.”
Mr. Ryan said the results now show the Altschuler camp was right all along in its decision to not concede.
“We knew the Bishop team had jumped the gun on claiming victory,” he said.
In a letter to supporters Saturday, Mr. Bishop asked for donations to reach a $25,000 goal by Monday to cover legal expenses. He also asked voters who experienced problems casting their ballots to report those issues.
“The integrity of the electoral process is frankly more important than even the result of this election,” he wrote.
He also asked supporters to volunteer their time during the recount process.
[email protected]

11/03/10 6:20pm
11/03/2010 6:20 PM


ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO Election night featured a lot of waiting around, and still nobody knows the end result in two key local races.


Local residents who stayed up all night Tuesday to find out who will be their next representative in Congress are still waiting for the final word.
The tight race between Congressman Tim Bishop and Republican challenger Randy Altschuler has still not been called, and Mr. Bishop said he’d wait until the absentee ballots were counted to claim victory.
The incumbent Southampton Democrat was leading the St. James businessman by fewer than 3,500 votes in New York’s 1st District race, according to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections, but they did not include a reported 9,500 absentee ballots.
Mr. Bishop called it the most heated election of his political career “by far.”
“My first campaign was when I went to unseat an incumbent and to win that by a narrow margin is one thing,” Mr. Bishop said of  his two-point win over Felix Grucci in 2002. “But to be an incumbent and hang on by this kind of margin shows you how tightly contested the race was.”
It was so tightly contested, the Altschuler camp was still holding out hope Wednesday that things would break their way.
“The 1st Congressional District race is too close to call,” said campaign  spokesman Rob Ryan in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. “Our election lawyer is currently collecting needed information at the Suffolk County Board of Elections. Thousands of absentee ballots are in play and that number is sure to increase over the next few days. We plan to proceed in a judicious fashion until every vote has been actually counted.”
If the results hold up, Mr. Bishop would be the first East End congressman elected to five terms in 40 years — Democrat Otis Pike of Riverhead served 18 years in the House before retiring in 1978.
But Mr. Bishop would be serving in the minority this time around. The GOP was expected to have won at least 60 seats in the House, once all the votes are finalized. It needed 39 to take control.
Mr. Altschuler’s defeat at the hands of Mr. Bishop would be one of the few disappointments suffered by Republicans Tuesday.
And it’s not for a lack of trying. Mr. Bishop’s seat, in a district where registered Republicans outnumber any other party’s registration number, was a major focal point for GOP and Conservative leaders for the past two years.
Mr. Altschuler, who spent $3 million of his own money on the long campaign, tried to capitalize on anti-Democratic sentiment nationwide, calling Mr. Bishop a “rubber stamp” for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership — which took a major hit across the country Tuesday.
Knowing what happened elsewhere around the country, Mr. Bishop was somewhat somber following his apparent victory Tuesday.
“It’s hard to be elated when I know many of my fellow public servants have had a tough night,” he said. “What we need to do is dig in and fight back.”

Other races
The local race for Assembly is also still too close to call, with Republican challenger Dan Losquadro leading incumbent Marc Alessi (D-Shoreham) by just 40 votes. Mr. Losquadro believed he would win the race, despite the close results.
“We’re confident that I will win this because we were aggressive with absentee ballots,” he said Tuesday night.
Mr. Alessi told his supporters it was still way too close to call.
“The election isn’t over,” he said. “It’s just beginning.”
Longtime Senator Ken LaValle was the only local candidate able to claim a certain win Tuesday night. He gave his victory speech in his landslide 30-point trouncing of Democratic challenger Jennifer Maertz of Rocky Point three hours before the final votes were even tallied.
“It always feels great to win,” Mr. LaValle said, “but it’s all about getting to the number 32. Winning the majority is critically important to my district, Long Island and the state.”
That balance of power in the Senate was also too close to call Wednesday with Democrats claiming they had held on to their majority early Wednesday morning, but several newspapers were calling close races in favor of the GOP. The New York Times reported Wednesday that the Senate could wind up with a 31-31 split. 
Long Island Senators Brian Foley (D-Blue Point) and Craig Johnson (D-Port Washington) — who both voted in favor of the controversial MTA payroll tax — appeared to have lost their seats Tuesday, but several other races throughout the state were too close to call.

Samantha Brix and Jennifer Gustavson contributed reporting to this story.
[email protected]