Randy Altschuler’s Blog

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The New York Republican establishment was handed a searing lesson in the perils of top-down machine politics last November.

Today, it’s the case of New York’s first congressional district, located in Long Island’s Suffolk County. Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop is in his fourth term in this battleground district, which George W. Bush won in 2004. He is under fire for party-line votes on everything from stimulus to health care. This is the sort of seat the GOP needs in order to gain a majority this fall.

The party looked set to do well. Businessman Randy Altschuler has been campaigning for more than a year on fiscal conservatism and pro-growth policies. The party banked him with strong fund raising and the endorsements of everyone from House GOP Whip Eric Cantor to local officials. He did face some competitors, including George Demos, a former SEC attorney, and Gary Berntsen, a former CIA official. New York has both Republican Party and Conservative Party ballot lines. In the usual course of things, Messrs. Altschuler, Demos and Berntsen would have engaged in a bottom-up competition for the committee votes and endorsements of the parties. One candidate would usually scoop both by spring, leaving him largely free to focus on Mr. Bishop.

Enter new state GOP party chairman Ed Cox—or rather, his son. Chris Cox, a lawyer, is a long-time resident of Manhattan. In January, however, he changed his voting address to his uncle’s house in the Hamptons and announced for NY 1. The airdrop of the party boss’s son caused an uproar.

Mr. Altschuler in May thumped Mr. Cox for the Conservative Party nomination, yet Mr. Cox keeps pursuing the Republican Party line. The Suffolk County GOP, under Ed Cox’s watchful eye, initially considered anointing his son. But grass-roots pushback has instead resulted in an open Sept. 14 primary for the Republican slot.

Read more in the Wall Street Journal >

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