The contest between Randy Altschuler, a wealthy St. James businessman, and Representative Tim Bishop went from just plain bad in 2010 to downright disgusting this year. From the Democratic side, accusations were made — then and in recent weeks — that Mr. Altschuler’s career as an outsourcing executive was bad for America. The Republicans countered — backed by millions in unregulated super-PAC money — that a routine constituent service effort by Mr. Bishop’s office was an inappropriate quid pro quo.
Mr. Altschuler kicked in $2 million of his own money in the 2010 campaign; this year he hasn’t had to, thanks to $2.5 million in spending on his behalf by outside groups. One particularly unsettling ad, which was paid for by a group co-founded by Karl Rove, even shows Mr. Bishop in what were unmistakably gun sights. Prohibited by federal law from asking that the ad be pulled, Mr. Altschuler kept silent, but he didn’t take the opportunity to denounce the message either.
Pretty much everything wrong with unregulated campaign spending can be found in this particular race. We would have preferred Mr. Altschuler, who seems like a nice enough guy, to adopt a better tone. This has not always been the case. For example, he has mischaracterized his opponent’s position on immigration reform and repeated mostly inaccurate statements against the Affordable Care Act.
There was little to recommend Mr. Altschuler when he ran for the office two years ago. Since that time, he has not done more as a candidate than try to ride the Tea Party wave of anger into office, while moderating some of his more extreme positions.
Mr. Bishop has been a steady advocate for the district in Washington and a frequent presence on the East End. Among specific efforts, he pushed for dredging Lake Montauk, battled to save jobs at the Plum Island disease laboratory, and tried to keep the 106th Rescue Wing at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton. Mr. Bishop is from here and he cares about what we care about. He should be returned to office.