Featured Story
06/25/14 12:00pm
COURTESY PHOTO | State Senator Lee Zeldin handily defeated challenger George Demos in the Republican congressional  primary Tuesday.

COURTESY PHOTO | State Senator Lee Zeldin handily defeated challenger George Demos in the Republican congressional primary Tuesday.

It will be a rematch between Tim Bishop and Lee Zeldin this fall.

State Senator Lee Zeldin defeated George Demos in Tuesday’s primary to secure the GOP line in the race for New York’s 1st Congressional District seat. (more…)

10/07/13 1:00pm
COURTESY PHOTO | State Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) will challenge incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) in 2014.

COURTESY PHOTO | State Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) will challenge incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) in 2014.

State Senator Lee Zeldin, a Shirley resident who lost a 2008 run for Congress and has since served two terms in Albany, will be taking another stab at six-time incumbent Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) next year as the Republican has the support of party leaders in the 2014 congressional race.

Mr. Zeldin, 33, announced his candidacy on Monday morning, launching a website along with a video telling voters why he’s seeking higher office. He earned 41 percent of the vote in his 2008 run against Mr. Bishop, before defeating State Senator Brian X. Foley with 57 percent of the vote.

At a time when a large portion of the federal government is not functioning due to a political gridlock in Washington, D.C., the Major in the Army Reserves and former paratrooper states in the video, “we can end the era of fiscal insanity and DC dysfunction.”

But on Monday morning, Mr. Bishop laid the blame for the current impasse at the feet of a faction of the House Republicans, calling it a “manufactured crisis by the Tea Party wing of the Republicans, who have simply taken over.”

Mr. Zeldin will face George Demos in a primary next year. Mr. Demos, a former Security and Exchange Commission lawyer, will be entering his third primary in the First Congressional District after earning just 13 percent of the vote in 2012, and coming in second place with 30 percent of the vote in 2010.

Mr. Bishop, who defeated Randy Altschuler in the last two election cycles, said on Monday morning, “It certainly looks as if Lee Zeldin and George Demos are going to have a very spirited primary. As of now, I’m 100 percent focused on doing my job, and look forward to facing whoever comes out of that primary.”

County Republican Chair John Jay LaValle said on Monday morning that Bishop will face his “first real challenge in public office” with the party-backed candidate in Zeldin, adding that no other candidates had been thoroughly considered to challenge Mr. Bishop. He also pointed to a recent investigation by the House Ethics Committee into the incumbent congressman that could prove to benefit Zeldin’s run.

“When you’re running against an individual who has never served in public office, with no name recognition, that’s one race,” Mr. LaValle said. “It’s another race when individuals like Lee Zeldin – a sitting elected official – steps up.”

12/03/11 9:35am

Election 2011 is over and on eastern Long Island, the activity has already begun in what will surely be the mostly hotly fought contest here in 2012: the race for the First District seat in Congress.

Democrat Tim Bishop of Southampton was first elected in 2002 to represent the five East End towns, all of Brookhaven and part of Smithtown in Congress. Competing aggressively to be the GOP candidate to oppose him are Randy Altschuler of St. James and George Demos of Ronkonkoma, who has roots on Shelter Island.

Suffolk Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle and Suffolk Conservative Chairman Ed Walsh, along with several GOP town leaders and all the Conservative town leaders in the lst C.D., have already announced their backing of Mr. Altschuler to take on Mr. Bishop again.

Mr. Altschuler lost very narrowly to Mr. Bishop last year. It took weeks but, after errors were found in the reporting of votes, a recount and tallying of absentee ballots, the incumbent won by 593 votes out of 196,039 cast — the closest congressional race in the U.S. in 2010. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has put Mr. Bishop on its endangered list for 2012.

Mr. Demos, who tried to be the GOP nominee in 2010, is pushing hard again to be the candidate. An attorney, he has been zeroing in on a sensitive area for Mr. Altschuler: outsourcing.

Mr. Altschuler’s greatest vulnerability last year was a business he founded, through which he made millions. It outsources jobs to India and other foreign countries. Mr. Bishop made it the major election issue. Mr. Demos recently blasted Mr. Altschuler “for lamenting the loss of American jobs after personally exporting thousands of those jobs to India … Randy Altschuler demonstrated once and for all why he has zero credibility as a candidate for U.S. Congress.”

Mr. Bishop, former Southampton College provost, has kept it up on outsourcing. In Congress this year, he sought, as his office describes it, “to prevent the federal government from contracting with companies that outsource American jobs.” His move was defeated by House Republicans.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bishop could have something else to worry about on Election Day — protest votes against any incumbent in Congress.

A New York Times/CBS poll in October found, as the Times put it in its headline: “Americans’ Approval of Congress Drops to Single Digits.” Only 9 percent of respondents approved “the way Congress is handling its job.” Some 84 percent disapproved. (Seven percent wasn’t sure.) It was the lowest approval rating for Congress ever recorded in the poll’s history.

Both Democratic and GOP incumbents are being blamed.

Helping lower Americans’ opinion recently was a “60 Minutes” story that revealed former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, now Democratic minority leader, and current House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, and other members of Congress took advantage of insider information to buy stock that benefited from congressional action or inaction. Being in Congress is a “venture opportunity … to enrich yourself, your friends, and your family,” said Peter Schweizer on “60 Minutes.” He’s the author of a new book, “Throw Them All Out.”

Making the rounds on the Internet in recent times has been this suggestion: “Members of Congress should be compelled to wear uniforms like NASCAR drivers so we could identify their sponsors.” And the posting: “Now I understand! The English language has some wonderfully anthropomorphic collective nouns for various groups of animals. We are all familiar with a herd of cows, a flock of chickens, a school of fish and a gaggle of geese … Now consider a group of baboons. They are the loudest, most dangerous, most obnoxious, most viciously aggressive and least intelligent of all primates. And what is the proper collective noun for a group of baboons? Believe it or not — a congress. I guess that pretty much explains the things that come out of Washington!”

This low opinion of the Congress isn’t new. Mark Twain a century ago wrote that “there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress.” And Will Rogers said: “The country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.”

With Congress having gone to its lowest point in citizen satisfaction, how will this play out nationally and in Suffolk in Election 2012?

08/08/11 3:50pm

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Randy Altschuler was all smiles when he won the GOP primary for New York's FIrst Congressional District in 2010. Now one of his opponents, George Demos, is saying he wants to give Altschuler another run for the Rpublican nod in 2012.

George Demos, a Ronkonkoma and part-time Shelter Island who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop in 2010, is running again. He announced his candidacy for the 2012 nomination on Monday.

Republican and Conservative party leaders almost immediately responded with announcement reaffirming their support for Randy Altschuler, who won the nomination last year and went on to lose to Mr. Bishop by 593 votes out of nearly 200,000 in November.

“We need to learn from last year’s mistakes and not let divisions within our own party allow Tim Bishop to sneak back into office again,” said County GOP Chairman John Jay LaValle. “Our country is in the midst of a severe economic and fiscal crisis and we need a business leader like Randy Atlschuler in Washington to fix it.”

“America’s hour of truth has arrived,” Mr. Demos said in announcing his candidacy. “Do we believe in freedom or the tyranny of big government?”

He drew 30 percent of the vote in the three-way GOP primary last September, with Mr. Altschuler taking 46 percent and Chris Cox, a resident of Westhampton Beach, taking 23 percent.

A former Securities and Exchange Commission attorney, Mr. Demos says he has dedicated his entire career to fighting corporate fraud and crime on behalf of the American people. On his campaign website, he describes himself as a lifelong member of the Shelter Island community.

“George Demos claims to be a conservative but after his announcement today he might as well be on Tim Bishop’s payroll,” said Conservative Party Chairman Ed Walsh. “The fact of the matter is that Demos can’t win this race and he knows it. The only thing his candidacy does is make it easier for a job-killing liberal like Bishop to get re-elected. He has zero support within the Conservative Party and if he cared at all about defeating Bishop he would get out of the race.”

“I’ll be blunt. We can’t afford a primary and should be united with a single goal in mind — defeating a tax and spend liberal incumbent and electing Randy Altschuler to Congress,” said Brookhaven Town Republican Chairman Jesse Garcia.

“Today’s announcement by George Demos has no impact on our strategy moving forward,” said Altschuler spokesman Chris Russell.

[email protected]