Deciding to stand side-by-side rather than across the table from one another in 2012, Republicans, Conservatives, and Tea Party members flocked to Riverhead's last week to stand behind Randy Altschuler, their choice to run a rematch against Rep. Tim Bishop, D-Southampton, this fall.
The showing marked a stark contrast with 2010, the year Suffolk County GOP Chair John Jay LaValle called Altschuler a "flawed candidate" and Suffolk 9-12, an East End Tea Party group, threw their support behind Chris Cox, the son of the New York State GOP Committee Chairman Ed Cox.
Amidst that division, by just under 600 votes.
The State Chair was on hand last week supporting Altschuler at the Suffolk 9-12-sponsored event. While the mainstream GOP and conservative wings stand united behind Altschuler, Mary Meyer - who co-founded Suffolk 9-12 along with her husband Bob - stated that unity amongst the different groups should be illustrated in the candidate they all support. And that's a work in progress.
"We want to win. That’s what it’s about," said Meyer, whose group is supporting Altschuler this time around. "There is to some degree a meeting point that has to be made and I think that we’re all working toward that."
Altschuler, who lives in St. James, has returned a more confident candidate than last time around, openly admitting how he "let Tim Bishop run all over [me]" in 2012.
The former businessman took wide criticism two years ago for starting a company which specializes in securing overseas jobs for American companies, Office Tiger. But this time Altschuler has his own point of attack, labeling five-term congressman a career politician who has lost site of what's important.
"It’s a sad state in this country when have to apologize for being successful," he said. "When we have to apologize for living the American Dream. When people like Tim Bishop, who have gotten rich on the backs of the taxpayers ... is somebody we honor, while Americans who are working every day, living the American Dream, are the ones that we vilify. That’s not the kind of America I want to live in," Altschuler said.
But before the businessman hears from Bishop he'll have to best another former opponent.
George Demos, a former Securities and Exchange Commissions lawyer from Ronkonkoma, took 30 percent of the Republican primary vote in 2010. And this time, with Chris Cox out of the picture, Demos believes he can score the conservative base that gave Cox 25 percent of the vote in 2010. The primary is set for June 26.
"Party bosses don't control the will of the voters. Surprisingly, most people didn't get that last time," Demos said this week. "And Randy Altschuler lost in a year when Republicans couldn't lose. The reason Randy can't win is simple: the outsourcing issue. I don't care what party you're from or what beliefs you have. You can't go to the voters saying you made a living specializing in outsorucing, and then say 'I want to be your congressman.'"
Altschuler supporters say being a more seasoned candidate will help him win over more voters this time around. Others have pointed to the amount Altschuler can donate to fund his own campaign – he donated $2.9 million in 2010.
Demos spent $500,000 to run his primary campaign. His campaign committee has nearly $90,000 on hand, according to disclosure reports, compared to Altschuler's $580,000.