Incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop, D - Southampton, narrowly held on to his First Congressional District seat on Election Day, winning by 3,461 votes with 100 percent of districts counted, the Suffolk County Board of Elections has reported.
Greeted by cheers from campaigners, staff, and fellow Democrats, Bishop took the podium early Wednesday morning at the Islandia Mariott from fellow Democrat Rep. Steve Israel, D - Huntington, who also won reelection. It was not the first time Bishop had found himself in a tight race.
"I remember eight years ago when I stood in this exact same spot," he recalled. "I was probably up around 1,400 or 1,500 votes. We came away with about 2,200 I think."
Due to the incomplete vote count when he took stage, Bishop left room in his speech to count absentee ballots.
"There are still some votes left to count," he said. "But I'd rather be where I am than where (Republican challenger Randy Altschuler) is."
Altschuler's camp, determined to see the race through to its ultimate end, has yet to concede.
"We're going to see what happens in the morning," said Altschuler's Communications Manager Rob Ryan. "We're going to talk with an election lawyer, evaluate the situation, and see if we can get some information we don't have."
Ryan added that he worked in the race for New York's 23rd Congressional District last year, in which ballots were cast using electronic machines for the first time - just as in Suffolk County. After challenging the validity of many votes cast, his campaign picked up several votes, he said.
"Just because these machines are new and fancy doesn't mean there can't be problems with them," he said.
Bishop recalled speaking in the the exact same spot eight years ago, and thanked family, friends, and his campaign staff for pulling him through the final days. But on a night when holding onto a House seat was no easy task, Bishop recognized the hit his party took on a larger scale.
"It's hard to be ebullient when so many really outstanding public servants have had a tough night," he said. "What we need to do is dig in and fight back."
Bishop is running for his fourth consecutive reelection bid. Altchuler, a Republican from St. James, rode an anti-incumbent wave this fall in hopes of joining Republicans nationwide as they reclaimed the House of Representatives.
Throughout the campaign season, Bishop often made clear that the 2010 race has been his toughest reelection campaign yet. After winning in 2008 with 58 percent of the vote, the former provost of Southampton University has been targeted for his votes for universal health care, cap-and-trade taxes, and the Troubled Asset Relief Program and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by Altschuler.
Altschuler won a three-way Republican primary with 45 percent of the vote to gain a spot on the Nov. 2 ballot. He was criticized by his Republican opponents and Bishop alike for starting a company which created jobs overseas, and also for moving to the First Congressional District for political gain.Name Party Percent Votes Timothy Bishop D 50.93 91,616 Randy Altschuler R 49.07 88,284