Contest for Congress: GOP Targeting Bishop in Hamptons Swing District

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According to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, seven incumbent House Democrats face formidable Republican challengers in New York. For the Republicans, one of their best prospects for a pick-up is New York's 1st Congressional District that includes Long Island's Hamptons and Eastern Suffolk County.

The First District is a political see-saw. Al Gore won there in 2000. Following the September 11th attacks, it went for President Bush in 2004. Four years later, it backed President Obama by just a few thousand votes. Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district, and there is a high proportion of independents.

So Republicans think they have a better than even chance this year of beating incumbent Tim Bishop, who was first elected in 2002.

Bishop, a 60 year-old former college administrator, opposed the war in Iraq. His web site highlights his success winning federal funds to keep local teachers and emergency personnel working. Bishop's voting record has won him a 91 percent rating from the ACLU and a perfect score frm the League of Conservation Voters.

His campaign donors include actor Alan Alda, Mel Brooks  and 18 of his House colleagues, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi. As of the end of August, Bishop had $1.5 million on hand and he is a favorite beneficiary of labor union PACS.

Bishop faces 39 year-old Randy Altschuler who prevailed in a bitter three-way primary that included Chris Cox, the grandson of Richard Nixon and the son of state Republican chair Ed Cox. Altschuler, a self-made millionaire, describes himself as pro-life fiscal conservative who pledges to repeal President Obama's health care overhaul.

At the end of August, Altschuler had $1.3 million on hand, but that doesn't account for what he spent in the home stretch before the primary. Altschuler is pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money into his campaign. He has also attracted big donations from prominent Wall Street players, who in some cases sent their checks in from ex-pat posts as far away as London and Manila.

Thanks to President Obama's landslide victory in New York in 2008 (he won 63-33 over John McCain), Democrats now hold 27 of the state's 29 House seats.