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Dec 14, 2010 12:42 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Altschuler: "I Don't Look Back With Regret"

Dec 14, 2010 12:42 PM

On Thursday, December 9—the day after his 16-month campaign to unseat U.S. Representative Tim Bishop finally came to an end—Randy Altschuler said he did what anyone else would do: he went back to work.

The Republican candidate from St. James said he had taken a hands-off approach with his electronics recycling company, CloudBlue, throughout the course of his campaign—a fierce challenge that brought him closer than any of his predecessors to bringing down his opponent, an entrenched Democrat from Southampton who has held office since 2002.

So close, in fact, that the race was still undecided more than a month after Election Day on November 2, and Mr. Bishop led by fewer than 300 votes when Mr. Altschuler finally conceded. It was the final congressional election to be decided in the nation.

“Mathematically, it wasn’t possible to win,” Mr. Altschuler, 39, said in an interview on Friday. “It wasn’t the right thing to continue the race if, mathematically, I couldn’t win.”

The concession came in the form of a phone call to Mr. Bishop at about 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday, December 8. Later that day, a State Supreme Court justice was slated to begin ruling on hundreds of absentee ballots that Mr. Altschuler’s campaign called into question due to issues of voter residency. Many of those ballots came from part-time East End residents who Mr. Altschuler’s legal team argued should have voted in New York City, instead of in the 1st Congressional District on Long Island.

“I think it’s our hope that the proper authorities will follow up on those,” Mr. Altschuler said of the challenged ballots.

Campaign finance records show that Mr. Altschuler spent $2.2 million of his own money, as of November 22, to mount his challenge, which he said began with an early push for the Republican and Conservative party nominations in August 2009. Mr. Altschuler said he doesn’t regret the resources he poured into the race. “I feel passionately about the issues, and I really badly want to help the community, so, certainly, I’m glad I waged the fight that I did, and those resources are sometimes necessary when your opponent has raised millions of dollars,” he said.

While he said he plans to continue living on Long Island—where he said he moved to from Manhattan in 2007, and where his wife, Cheryl, now has a medical practice, and his 3-year-old son, Noah, goes to school—he was vague about his future political plans. He said his focus is now on his family, adding that he hopes to continue working on the issues that dominated his campaign, including rolling back government spending and cutting the federal deficit.

But in what capacity?

“Too early to tell,” he said. “I’ll see what the most effective way to help about those issues is.”

Mr. Altschuler also declined to play “Monday morning quarterback,” as he put it, and discuss the reasons his bid may have fallen short. When asked if he thought the specter of his former company, the outsourcing firm OfficeTiger—which emerged as a target of Mr. Bishop’s advertisements—played a role, Mr. Altschuler said he did not know, and he criticized Mr. Bishop for waging a “very negative campaign.”

“I learned a lot of things,” Mr. Altschuler said. “I don’t look back with regret. I’m just grateful for all the support I got, and the 97,000-plus people who voted for me.”

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These are fairly gracious statements by Randy Altschuler -- a couple of quick shots about part-time residents and negative campaigning, but overall the reaction of a gentleman to a loss that must have been very hard to take. Most of Mr. Altschuler's supporters who comment on this site could benefit greatly by following his example. Their candidate shows a nobility in defeat that they do not remotely approach, but I guess that's why he's the leader and they're the followers.
By Turkey Bridge (1868), Quiogue on Dec 17, 10 2:50 PM