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Demos looks to sidestep proxy war

Fleeting news reports have a way of making the fierce rivalry for the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District seem like a two-way contest between Randy Altschuler and Christopher Cox. State Conservative chairman Michael Long backs Altschuler; state Republican chairman Edward Cox of course supports his son Christopher.

The wider clash between the state chairmen - first evident in the governor's race and now manifest in both U.S. Senate races - gives this local fight to oppose Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) the feel of a proxy war, as does a former New Jersey GOP chairwoman's slap at Altschuler over the weekend.

But candidate George Demos, who began running in October, soldiers on. Looking to gather 1,250 valid petition signatures needed to qualify for the primary, Demos says of Altschuler and Cox: "These are not candidates that can win a general election."

"I'm not the candidate of any party machine," says the self-described "outsider" and former Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement attorney. "Every penny we've raised is from individual donors," he says, citing more than $500,000 raised so far. "I can't offer the party bosses anything. All I can do is offer the voters a record of service and a commitment to serve."

SIMMERING 7TH:In Nassau's 7th Senate District, Republican candidate Jack Martins, Mineola's mayor, calls Mayor Michael Bloomberg's support for a Sen. Craig Johnson (D-Port Washington) fundraiser "proof positive that our senator is in the pocket of New York City," ticking off several issues. Johnson's spokesman attributes it to "proven independence and because he stood up for children" against teachers' unions, "as well as the leadership of his own party," on charter schools. In past races, billionaire Bloomberg backed Johnson opponents Maureen O'Connell and Barbara Donno - both before Democrats won a Senate majority.

SEEKING AN EDGE:David Malpass, pursuing a GOP nomination to face Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, reports $2.4 million campaign cash on hand . . . Altschuler appeared Thursday in Hampton Bays with Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) . . . Chris Cox will be grand marshal of the Pulaski Day parade in Cheektowaga, near Buffalo. Cox's late grandmother, first lady Patricia Nixon, marched in 1972 and President John F. Kennedy led it in 1962 . . . The Independence Party in Suffolk screens State Senate and congressional candidates Friday.

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