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Suffolk House hopefuls face shutdown backlash and each other

Can the GOP caucus help a House candidate

Can the GOP caucus help a House candidate next year in Suffolk or vice versa? Photo Credit: AP

Two Suffolk Republicans ventured this month into a vortex by announcing candidacies against Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) -- just as the House GOP's high-risk shutdown standoff with the White House began to shake the nation.

One would-be nominee, state Sen. Lee Zeldin of Shirley, said when asked Friday if he'd be a tea party backer, a Speaker John Boehner loyalist, or another kind of caucus member: "I don't want to get into labels. I want to be my own man representing the 1st Congressional District.

"I'm watching Republicans blame Democrats and Democrats blame Republicans, and frankly, I'm blaming all of them. Voters are sick and tired of the dysfunction," he said.

Zeldin compared Washington's current ways unfavorably with those of Albany, where lawmakers seek to "work through our party differences to try to move the state forward."

On Friday, state Republican chairman Ed Cox and state conservative chairman Michael Long endorsed Zeldin, who meanwhile drew fire from Democratic operatives for balking at supporting a so-called "clean" bill that would unconditionally end the current shutdown.

Lawyer George Demos, in a message to supporters announcing his third try for the House seat, said: "We must hold Washington and Albany politicians accountable for their deeds -- and in the case of Liberal Tim Bishop, for their misdeeds."

Demos, backed by ex-Gov. George Pataki, reacted to a shutdown question this way: "I'd vote for a 'clean' bill -- meaning one not dirtied up by Obamacare."

Polls show growing disapproval of how congressional Republicans are handling budget talks. Voters may see an advantage to electing a representative with clout in the majority, but the GOP's hold on the House will be tested in next year's elections. Republican operatives last week sent out new slams against Bishop's floor votes.

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