Republican Congressional candidate Randy Altschuler this week received the endorsement of the Independence Party — a party line that Democratic incumbent Tim Bishop had in 2010 when Altschuler narrowly lost to him.
Altschuler, of St. James, has the Conservative Party endorsement as well, but must still defeat George Demos, of Brookhaven, in a primary before he can have a rematch with Bishop, a five-term congressman from Southampton. Altschuler and Bishop's 2010 matchup was the , 36 days after Election Day, with just hundreds of votes separating them.
Bishop received 7,370 votes on the Independence Line in 2010, while he ended ahead of Altschuler by just 593 votes.
“The shift of support is seen as a potential game changer in the race for this competitive Suffolk County seat,” Altschuler’s campaign said in a statement.
In an Independence Party of New York statement, party Chairman Frank MacKay said Altschuler received the endorsement “by virtue of his background as a self-made businessman who came from humble beginning to achieve the American Dream.”
“Randy has always impressed me as someone who has the real world experience we need in Washington to fix the economic and fiscal mess facing the country,” MacKay continued. He called Altschuler a “Washington outsider and successful entrepreneur” who has achieved success outside of politics.
The Bishop camp did not act discouraged.
"Suffolk County voters know Tim Bishop's record of service, and they vote for a person, not a party,” Bishop spokesman Oliver Longwell said Thursday. “Third party lines are simply not as important in major races where the candidates are well established. Tim beat an incumbent in 2002 without the Independence line, and the voters who re-elected him over Randy Altschuler in 2010 will know where to find Tim on the ballot."
But Altschuler spokesman Chris Russell said, “Make no mistake about it, this is a major blow to Congressman Bishop’s campaign. … It tells you all you need to know that the Bishop campaign is now scrambling to downplay the endorsement, when two years ago they were celebrating it.”