JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO
A happy Randy Altschuler addresses supporters at his campaign headquarters in Farmingville following his victory in Tuesday’s GOP congressional primary. He’ll now go on to face incumbent Congressman Tim Bishop in November.
Randy Altschuler has won the right to oppose Tim Bishop in this November’s race for the 1st Congressional District.
Mr. Altschuler, 39, defeated a pair of fellow Republican hopefuls in a primary election Tuesday after months of often contentious campaigning. He received 46 percent of the vote, 16 points ahead of runner-up George Demos. A third candidate, Chis Cox, was selected by just 23 percent of GOP voters.
Mr. Altschuler said he’s excited to move ahead as the Republican nominee, saying his message has gotten across.
“I am a first-time candidate and this is a thrilling moment for me,” he said. “Now I have the inspiring task to beat Tim Bishop in November.”
Mr. Cox expressed disappointment at his campaign headquarters in Smithtown Tuesday night.
“It’s an unfortunate result for us,” he said. “But we’re happy to carry on with our message of cutting taxes, reducing the deficit and creating jobs here in Suffolk.”
The primary became an inevitability in the spring, when Republican officials chose not to make an endorsement.
In theory, this could be a tough year for Mr. Bishop as he seeks re-election in a predominantly Republican district at a time when anti-Washington sentiment is said to be running high. But his name has barely been mentioned as the GOP candidates, in costly advertising campaigns, have bludgeoned each other over their backgrounds.
But Mr. Altschuler, a St. James businessman, has vowed to campaign aggressively against Mr. Bishop over the next seven weeks.
“Simply put, Tim Bishop, Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats have failed us,” he said. “So now we are coming to take back our government.”
Mr. Altschuler was attacked by his fellow Republican hopefuls as someone who only first registered to vote here two years ago. He has been hit for allegedly creating a business that outsourced jobs to India, for attempting unsuccessfully to run for Congress in New Jersey and for failing to vote for most of his adult life.
Mr. Cox, who runs a consulting business, has been described as a New York City resident with no ties to the district other than his uncle’s Westhampton Beach estate, which he now calls home. He switched his voter enrollment earlier this year. Mr. Cox, whose father is state GOP chairman, is a grandson of former President Richard Nixon.
A former Securities and Exchange Commission attorney, Mr. Demos lives in Ronkonkoma but has long summered on Shelter Island, which is where he is registered to vote. But since he first registered in 1995, he has voted largely through absentee ballots.
Mr. Cox vowed Tuesday night to rally behind Mr. Altschuler, saying soon after the results came in that he had already spoken with his now former opponent.
“I called him and said ‘Good luck as the Republican nominee,'” Mr. Cox said.
The Bishop campaign wasted little time in picking up where Mr. Altschuler’s GOP foes left off.
“Suffolk County voters have a clear choice between Tim Bishop, who is fighting to create good jobs on Long Island, or Randy Outsourcer, who got rich shipping American jobs to India,” Lisa Wieber, Mr. Bishop’s campaign manager said in a press release.
The Bishop campaign said Suffolk County Republican chairman John Jay LaValle voiced similar misgivings on the Altschuler candidacy back in January.
In an article in the Daily News Mr. LaValle said, “The reality is I’ve never seen a candidate try to run for office with more flaws than Randy Altschuler … Absent his personal wealth, he wouldn’t even be considered for this seat.”
In a separate piece in Newsday, the chairman is quoted as describing outsourcing as “a death knell” and that Mr. Altschuler “achieved impressively, but it’s been on the back of the hardworking men and women on Long Island.”
Mr. LaValle is not backing away from those comments.
“Those are concerns that I’ve had with Randy’s candidacy,” he said Wednesday. “Obviously outsourcing wasn’t a death knell. Apparently voters were less concerned about it than we were.”
The chairman maintains that any of the three GOP candidates would make a better congressman than Tim Bishop.
“Every candidate comes with flaws,” Mr. LaValle said. “Since Ronald Reagan passed, there has been no perfect candidate.” He argues that Mr. Bishop, through his support for President Obama’s initiatives, including the financial institution bailouts, “has irreparably harmed us and our children for many years to come.”
With Tim Kelly, Samantha Brix and Jennifer Gustavson reporting.