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Bishop, Altschuler spar over job creation

At left, Randy Altschuler attends a Veterans Day

At left, Randy Altschuler attends a Veterans Day ceremony in Smithtown. At right, Rep. Tim Bishop attends a rally at Stony Brook University. (Nov. 11, 2010, and Oct. 27, 2010) Credit: James Carbone

Eyeing a fall rematch, Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and his leading Republican challenger, Randy Altschuler, are focusing their attacks on the issue of local jobs.

Altschuler, a St. James businessman who lost to Bishop by 593 votes in 2010, unveiled his "10-Point Jobs Plan for Long Island" this month, trumpeting his private-sector credentials as he bashed Bishop -- the five-term congressman and former Southampton College provost -- as a career bureaucrat.

But the plan, in which Altschuler pledged to hire an aide to woo companies to Suffolk, led Bishop to question him about his own business. Altschuler co-founded and chairs CloudBlue, a 380-employee electronics recycling firm based in Norcross, Ga.

At a recent forum in Riverhead, an attendee asked Altschuler why the company he helped launch in 2008 wasn't headquartered locally. He said his chief executive lives in Georgia, and, "frankly, I'll let him choose where to . . . [run] the company."

"I don't see how he can be an effective advocate for bringing jobs to Suffolk when he, himself, has refused to do so," Bishop said in an interview. "He says he's going to hire an economic coordinator to bring business to Long Island. I think the first conversation that person should have is with Randy, and ask him why he's not willing to bring his own jobs."

Altschuler campaign spokesman Chris Russell called questions about the company's Long Island presence -- it has 17 processing or logistics centers across the United States, Puerto Rico and England -- a distraction from the fact that only Altschuler has released a detailed jobs plan. Altschuler's plan calls for tax cuts, less business regulation and creation of a small business advisory panel.

"To say Randy doesn't know how to create jobs just because his company isn't based here really doesn't wash," Russell said. "We are not going to be lectured by Tim Bishop on how to create jobs. He doesn't know the first thing about the economy or how to fix it."

Altschuler, 41, noted at the forum that he keeps an office in Port Jefferson Station.

Bishop called that misleading. The rented space, inside a three-floor office complex on Route 112, has no employees and isn't mentioned on CloudBlue's website. But Russell said Altschuler, who referred questions to his spokesman, never represented it as anything but space for him to work and host clients.

"If his [Bishop's] new campaign strategy is trying to distract people with silly charges about Randy, it's not going to work," Russell said. "This is about a career bureaucrat and politician who has failed on the economy, versus a self-made businessperson who knows what it's like to scratch and claw in the real world."

Bishop countered by noting he once led efforts to save the 106th Air Rescue Wing at Gabreski Air National Guard Base from closure and fought a plan to lay off 1,000 people at Brookhaven National Lab, one of Suffolk's largest employers.

"I'm very proud of what I've done to protect jobs on Long Island," Bishop said.

In 2010, Bishop attacked Altschuler as an "outsourcer" for running the Manhattan business support firm, OfficeTiger. Altschuler sold the company in 2006, when it had 4,000 employees -- half in India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Altschuler has called Bishop's criticism dishonest, noting OfficeTiger had 750 U.S.-based jobs and that none of the overseas positions were created at their expense.

Altschuler faces George Demos, a former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer from Brookhaven, in the June 26 GOP primary.

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