Labor Day may be the traditional start for fall campaigns, but Republican state Sen. Lee Zeldin and Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop are already swinging away at each other a week early in the battle for the 1st District congressional seat.
Bishop (D-Southampton) on Tuesday attacked Zeldin for planning to have tea party-backed former Republican congressman Allen West as a “special guest” at his campaign kickoff Sept. 8. Evan Lukaske, a Bishop spokesman, said West “represents everything wrong with Congress.”
He noted that West, a former Army lieutenant colonel, is known for his “right-wing ideology“ and rhetoric, which has compared Social Security to slavery, labeled the Dream Act “reprehensible” and compared government under President Barack Obama to Nazi Germany because of Obama's backing for gun control.
Zeldin (R-Shirley) called Bishop’s attack a “full-throttled assault” and chided the congressman for failing to thank West for his military service, which Zeldin said protected Bishop's freedom “to engage in name-calling and character assassination” because he “wants to stay in Congress at any cost.”
Zeldin several hours later sent back his own salvo, lashing out at Bishop for trying to “rewrite history” and avoid debate on the Common Core issue by saying it is a state issue and not a federal one.
Zeldin said the federal Department of Education received $4.3 billion in funding from Congress for Race to the Top legislation, which required the state to adopt Common Core standards. He also said Bishop wrote to help get funding for New York after it was initially rejected. “As much as my opponent wants to deny it, he played a big role in all of this,” said Zeldin.
Lukaske countered that if Zeldin wanted to truly repeal Common Core in New York, he should stay in the State Senate, ”which has the power to eliminate it." He added that Zeldin’s “transparent and woefully misinformed attack” is aimed at distracting taxpayers from his first-year vote in Albany to cut education funding by $1.3 billion.
Zeldin on Monday had attacked Bishop for what he said was not pressing hard enough to change Federal Aviation Agency rules that currently allow helicopters to fly over land east of Huntington. “Stop the spin and excuses and fix the loophole,” said Zeldin.
Bishop, however, said he and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have led the way to have the FAA create a North Shore route that requires helicopter pilots to remain a mile offshore, which has given relief to many residents, and will press to have it extended to Orient Point. He added that they have pressed for a South Shore route as well.