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Oct 2, 2012 1:02 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Campaign Diary: John Boehner To Campaign With Altschuler

Oct 2, 2012 3:49 PM

This year’s race for New York’s 1st Congressional District seat has become a magnet for national political attention—and it will get a little more next week.

Speaker of the House John Boehner will pay a visit to St. James on October 10 to boost Republican Randy Altschuler’s campaign against incumbent Democratic U.S. Representative Tim Bishop at a private fundraiser, according to Mr. Altschuler’s campaign. And that, said Campaign Manager Diana Weir, is a good sign.

“If you can get the big guy here, your base is on his radar screen,” Ms. Weir said.

The fundraiser will cost $250 for general admission, $1,000 for a photo with Mr. Boehner and $2,500 for a private reception, said Ms. Weir. She said it is being hosted by the Long Island Victory Fund.

Mr. Bishop and Mr. Altchuler fought an extremely tight race two years ago that was not settled until nearly a month after Election Day. Mr. Bishop survived that challenge by only 600 votes.

Mr. Boehner is one of under a handful of high-profile politicians who will have lent their weight to the race this year. Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton campaigned for Mr. Bishop this summer.

Both the Republican and Democratic national parties have flagged the race as significant, qualifying their respective candidates for financial support. Mr. Altschuler was named a “Young Gun,” one of 12 top Republican candidates across the country, while Mr. Bishop was identified as a “Frontline Democrat,” one of 17 Democrats to be so categorized in the country.

The race has been labeled a “toss-up” by several news groups, including The New York Times and Real Clear Politics. It’s also been the subject of an independent Siena Research Institute poll because of how close the race was two years ago.

Robert Pierce, the communications director for Mr. Bishop’s campaign, pointed to a recent story by The Rothenberg Political Report, which on September 28 reclassified the race from a “Toss-up” to a “Lean Democratic.” The story claims recent polling shows Mr. Bishop has a ”solid lead” over Mr. Altschuler.

In a statement, Mr. Pierce attacked Mr. Altschuler’s plans to appear with Mr. Boehner, claiming they symbolize how plugged in he is to Republican leadership in Congress, including Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

“For all of Altschuler’s ‘outsider’ rhetoric, he certainly has powerful friends in Washington,” he said in an email statement. “Boehner and Cantor presided over the least productive Congress in modern American history, and now they are tripping over themselves to help Altschuler join their ranks. It seems that Altschuler has no problem criticizing the Republican Congress at night and cashing their checks by day.”

Upcoming Debates

The League of Women Voters of the Hamptons will host a series of debates for candidates in the local New York State Senate and Congressional races.

On Monday, October 15, the League and the Hampton Bays Civic Association will cosponsor a debate between Democrat Bridget Fleming and incumbent Republican New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle at the Hampton Bays Senior Center on Ponquogue Avenue at 7 p.m.

On Monday, October 22, the League will host another debate between Ms. Fleming and Mr. LaValle at the East Hampton Village Firehouse at 7 p.m.

Also, on October 25, there will be a debate between Republican Randy Altschuler and incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop, who are both vying to represent the 1st Congressional District. The debate will take place at the Westhampton Beach High School.

Each candidate in each debate will have a two-minute opening and closing statement, two minutes to respond to questions, and three opportunities to speak out of turn as a rebuttal. They will also get the chance to ask their opponent one question.

Questions will come from the League, the Press News Group of Southampton, the Hampton Bays Civic Association and the audience.

Separate from the League, there will be one other Congressional debate in Bridgehampton on October 15, co-sponsored by the Press News Group and the Times/Review News Group of Riverhead. It will take place at the Bridgehampton School at 7 p.m. The first half of the 90-minute debate will focus on jobs and the economy, and the second half will be open to general questions.

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