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1st C.D.: Altschuler concedes to Rep. Bishop (updated)
Altschuler, a St. James businessman who poured $2.8 million of his own money into the race, congratulated Bishop (D-Southampton) and said he would not seek a full hand recount of the nearly 200,000 ballots cast.
Altschuler trailed Bishop by at least 263 votes with less than 1,000 uncounted absentee ballots.
"Although Newsday, The New York Times and the Bishop campaign have all called for a hand recount of all the ballots cast on Election Day, I will not support such an action as I feel its cost will place an unnecessary burden on the taxpayers of Suffolk County," Altschuler said in a statement released by his campaign at 9 a.m.
Altschuler's concession ends what has become a familiar scene in close elections: Weeks of attorneys huddled at the local board of elections debating thousands of contested ballots one-by-one.
Teams from the Altschuler and Bishop campaigns have spent recent weeks at Suffolk elections board's Yaphank warehouse and had planned to be there by 9:30 a.m. Wednesday when State Supreme Court Justice Peter H. Mayer was to continue ruling on disputed absentee ballots.
Altschuler phoned Bishop to concede Wednesday morning. The two spoke for about five to six minutes and had "a gracious conversation," spokesmen for the two candidates each said.
"We knew that as of yesterday we had reached the point where our lead was larger than the number of outstanding challenges we had," Bishop spokesman Jon Schneider said. "Given the ups and downs of this election, we're happy to take a win however we can get it."
Altschuler, who moved to Long Island in 2006 and first voted in the 1st Congressional District in 2008, signaled that he will be a presence in the region's future political scene.
"I intend," he said, "to play an active role in building the Republican and Conservative Party voices in both Suffolk County and New York State," he said.
Here is the full text of the Altschuler campaign's concession statement:
Randy Altschuler, Republican/Conservative candidate, Wednesday morning conceded the hard-fought race for New York's 1st Congressional District seat. With approximately 977 absentee ballots left to be counted, unofficial numbers showed four-term Democrat incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop with a 263 vote lead over Altschuler, with a total of more than 194,000 votes cast. The 1st Congressional District was the last undecided House seat in the nation.
Additionally, the Altschuler campaign dropped its legal challenges to the remaining uncounted absentee ballots. This will allow the Suffolk County Board of Elections to count the remaining ballots. While the Altschuler campaign has uncovered numerous instances of absentee ballots that may have been unlawfully cast, the campaign is confident that the proper authorities will take the appropriate action concerning them and that their number is too small to alter the outcome of the election.
Randy Altschuler said, "After consulting with my family and campaign staff, I am ending my campaign and offering congratulations to Congressman Tim Bishop on his victory.
"Although Newsday, The New York Times and the Bishop campaign have all called for a hand recount of all the ballots cast on Election Day, I will not support such an action as I feel its cost will place an unnecessary burden on the taxpayers of Suffolk County.
"This was a very close election, and I want to thank everyone who was involved. Let me assure each and every one of my supporters, including my volunteers, donors and campaign staff, that your hard work, friendship and generosity will never be forgotten.
"I also want to thank the voters of Suffolk County. You proved that every vote does count and why it is so important that all Americans participate in our electoral process.
"I entered this race because I was worried about the future of our nation. The problems America faces are many and will not be easily solved. I plan to stay active in politics and continue to speak out on the issues that affect the residents of Suffolk County, our state and our nation. Those issues include high taxes, runaway spending and an ever-growing deficit. I intend to play an active role in building the Republican and Conservative Party voices in both Suffolk County and New York State."