Even as Suffolk Republicans huddled late this afternoon to pick a contender from a crowded field to run against Rep. Timothy Bishop, the county's Conservative chairman endorsed multi-millionaire businessman Randy Altschuler.
Chairman Edward Walsh said Altschuler impressed his executive committee. ”His business skill set, understanding of the issues, and firm belief in conservative principles make him uniquely qualified to be our standard bearer,” said Walsh in a statement issued by Altschuler’s campaign office. Neither Walsh nor Richard Johannesen, Brookhaven Conservative chairman, could immediately be reached.
Altschuler in a statement said “We plan to fight back the liberal policies of Tim Bishop... and carry the conservative banner with pride.”The endorsement drew an immediate broadside from Bob Meyer, president the 850-member Suffolk 9-12 Project, a tea party group, who called Walsh “a fraud” and urged his resignation as leader. “What does Randy Altschuler have other than money?” asked Meyer. He said Altschuler is not a Conservative and will undercut efforts to oust Bishop.
On Thursday, Suffolk GOP Chairman John Jay LaValle said he preferred an “open primary” where all nine contenders for the seat could square off. It could not be determined if the Conservative Party’s actions might alter GOP thinking.
LaValle for months has lambasted Altschuler’s candidacy as “dead on arrival” because his former company, Office Tigers, exported thousands of jobs to Asia, and because of his poor voting record and membership in the Green Party which espoused extreme liberal causes.
Rob Ryan, Altschuler’s spokesman, deflected questions on whether Altschuler would remain in the race on the Conservative line alone if he lost a a Republican primary. “We expect to be the nominee of the Republican, Conservative and Independence Parties,” he said.
Frank MacKay, state and Suffolk independence Party leader, said: “We haven’t screened yet. We have an open mind, but we also have a party member and public official, Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Monauk) who has an exploratory committee considering a run.”