Democrats won big on Tuesday, both nationally, with the reelection of President Barack Obama, and locally, as Suffolk County voters returned incumbent Tim Bishop to his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for a sixth term.
Flanked by his family—his daughters, Molly and Meghan, his young grandson, Noah, and his wife, Kathy—Mr. Bishop, a Southampton native, spoke passionately and proudly about his victory over Republican Randy Altschuler to an intimate but vocal crowd in Islandia, whose enthusiasm was so loud that it interrupted his victory speech at times.
“I knew it was a tough race, but I’m not surprised,” he said at the Marriott Hotel, where Suffolk County Democrats gathered on election night. “I mean, I knew it was tough. I knew it was going to be close—we all did. But, I mean, I was never the underdog. People tried to portray me as the underdog. I’m the incumbent member of Congress, and I’ve done a damn good job.”
Mr. Bishop carried the lead early and ended the night amassing about 52 percent of the votes cast, or 132,525 votes. Mr. Altschuler garnered about 48 percent, or 121,478 votes, according to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections.
The congressman won by a much smaller margin against Mr. Altschuler two years ago, when he squeaked by on a mere 600 votes, a vote count that took weeks to resolve.
Mr. Altschuler conceded the race shortly after midnight in Patchogue, where the Suffolk County Republican Committee held their headquarters. Mr. Altschuler personally thanked a long list of people, including family, local political leaders, campaign staff and volunteers. He also congratulated Mr. Bishop on winning.
“I wish Congressman Bishop the very best efforts in the next couple years,” he said. “God bless all of you.”
After the speech, Mr. Altschuler told reporters that running again in two years wasn’t on his mind. He also credited Mr. Bishop for running a “great campaign.”
“I’m not thinking about running,” he said. “I’m thinking about spending time with my family and helping my community.”
In his victory speech, Mr. Bishop spoke highly about those who voted for him. He said there were “a lot of people and a lot of institutions that bet against me” throughout the race.
“They bet against the middle class families of this district,” Mr. Bishop said. “They bet against the wisdom of the people of this district, the essential goodness of the people of this district, the essential sense of fairness of the people of this district, and the ability to separate the truth from lies—that’s what they bet against.”
Officials from both parties remarked on how high voter turnout was this year. According to the Suffolk County Board of Elections, 254,003 people cast ballots for 1st Congressional District race out of an eligible 444,401—or a 57.16-percent voter turnout. When the two met in 2010, the turnout was only 45.74 percent.
Mr. Bishop handily won in East Hampton and Southampton towns. In the Republican dominated Town of Southampton, Mr. Bishop got 12,649 votes to Mr. Altschuler’s 9,023. In the mostly Democratic-registered Town of East Hampton, Mr. Bishop pulled 5,763 votes to Mr. Altschuler’s 3,263.
President Obama carried Suffolk County on margins smaller than his victory in 2008. The president had 50.75 percent of the vote, or 274,830, to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s 47.89 percent, or 259,348, according to unofficial county election results. In 2008, the president garnered 52.55 percent of the county vote, or 346,549, to then Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s 46.56-percent, or 307,021 votes.
Asked whether President Obama at the top of the ticket helped him, Mr. Bishop said, “I don’t know that he had any coattails for me.”
County political leaders spoke highly of their candidates. Suffolk County Democratic Chairman Rich Shaffer said when it comes down to trust, voters trust Mr. Bishop. Suffolk County Republican Committee Chairman John Jay LaValle characterized it as “tough race” and described the young businessman as “a great person.”
“Randy Altschuler once again valiantly carried the banner,” he said.
At about 11:30 p.m., Mr. Bishop called it a “victory.” In his speech, he touched on the negative tone of the campaign, and also spoke about the unlimited nature of independent outside spending by Super PACs. Outside spending reportedly topped $3 million in the 1st Congressional District race. That’s apart from the more than $4 million both campaigns combined have spent in this year’s race.