One of the closest congressional elections in the country in 2010 was in New York’s 1st Congressional District, where Rep. Tim Bishop (D) narrowly defeated Tea Party champion Randy Altschuler (R). Too close to call on election night, the recount dragged out for several weeks before Bishop was declared the winner by only 263 votes. This year, Altschuler is challenging Bishop again and Republicans believe this is one of their best possibilities of picking up a Democratic seat.
Bishop was elected in 2002 in a close race against a Republican incumbent. In the last ten years, he has established himself as a forceful progressive voice on education and environmental issues. While the district swings back and forth between Republicans and Democrats in presidential races, Althschuler was Bishop’s first serious political opponent since his initial election.
The 1st Congressional District comprises the eastern portion of Long Island, and voters there have close ties to New York City. The district was hit very hard on 9/11. Bishop understands, however, that the most effective response to terrorist attacks stem from diplomatic and economic development efforts, not unilateral military force.
Bishop has consistently voted in favor of U.S. support for the United Nations. He has opposed the development of new nuclear weapons and the deployment of expensive and ineffective missile defense systems. He was a reliable vote in favor of ending the wars in Iran and Afghanistan. In recent months, he has been a vocal critic of Republican attempts to exclude the Pentagon budget from attempts to balance the budget and reduce federal spending.
Altschuler based his campaign against Bishop on 2010 on Bishop’s support for President Obama’s domestic policies. His criticism of Bishop’s support for the economic stimulus and healthcare reform was particularly pointed. Altschuler’s foreign policy positions are in line with the policies pursued by George W. Bush. He supported the Bush administration’s wars in Iran and Afghanistan and opposed attempts to end them.
This race will be close and expensive. Both candidates have raised significant armounts for their campaign bank accounts, but because the district is covered by the expensive New York City media market, every dollar will count.