Zeldin earns GOP support to challenge Bishop in 2014

10/07/2013 1:00 PM |
COURTESY PHOTO | State Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) will challenge incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) in 2014.

COURTESY PHOTO | State Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) will challenge incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) in 2014.

State Senator Lee Zeldin, a Shirley resident who lost a 2008 run for Congress and has since served two terms in Albany, will be taking another run at six-time incumbent Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) next year, as the Republican has the support of party leaders for the 2014 congressional race.

Mr. Zeldin, 33, announced his candidacy on Monday morning, launching a website along with a video telling voters why he’s seeking higher office. He earned 41 percent of the vote in his 2008 run against Mr. Bishop, before defeating state Senator Brian X. Foley with 57 percent of the vote in 2010.

At a time when a large portion of the federal government is not functioning due to a political gridlock in Washington, D.C., U.S. Army Reserves major and former paratrooper states in the video that “we can end the era of fiscal insanity and D.C. dysfunction.”

Zeldin said on Monday that financial issues such as “out of control debt and spending” concern him as a candidate, and working in public office over the past few years has prepared him in regards to the political process and issues.

But on Monday morning, Mr. Bishop laid the blame for the current impasse at the feet of a faction of the House Republicans, calling it a “manufactured crisis by the Tea Party wing of the Republicans, who have simply taken over.”

Mr. Zeldin will face George Demos in a primary next year. Mr. Demos, a former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer, will be entering his third primary in the First Congressional District after earning just 13 percent of the vote in 2012, and coming in second place with 30 percent of the vote in 2010.

Mr. Bishop, who defeated Randy Altschuler in the last two election cycles, said on Monday morning, “It certainly looks as if Lee Zeldin and George Demos are going to have a very spirited primary. As of now, I’m 100 percent focused on doing my job, and look forward to facing whoever comes out of that primary.”

County Republican chairman John Jay LaValle said on Monday morning that Bishop will face his “first real challenge in public office” with the party-backed candidate in Mr. Zeldin, adding that no other candidates had been thoroughly considered to challenge Mr. Bishop.

He also pointed to a recent investigation by the House Ethics Committee into the incumbent congressman that could prove to benefit Mr. Zeldin’s run.

“When you’re running against an individual who has never served in public office, with no name recognition, that’s one race,” Mr. LaValle said. “It’s another race when individuals like Lee Zeldin – a sitting elected official – steps up.”

jpinciaro@timesreview.com