The Republican Party’s primary election to determine the candidate who will face the incumbent, Representative Tim Bishop, will take place on June 24. The primary pits Lee Zeldin, a two-term state senator from Shirley, against George Demos, an attorney formerly with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission who lives in Stony Brook.
Mr. Bishop, who is seeking a seventh term in what is expected to be a closely contested election, does not face a primary challenger.
Mr. Zeldin is a graduate of the State University at Albany and earned a law degree from Albany Law School. He spent four years on active duty with the Army and served in Iraq. At present he serves as a major in the Army Reserves. He is backed by the Republican and Conservative Parties.
Mr. Demos, the grandson of Greek immigrants, served on the team that prosecuted Bernard Madoff, the investment adviser convicted in what is considered to be the largest financial fraud in U.S. history. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Gov. George Pataki have endorsed him.
Both candidates point to the economy as the top issue facing the district. Mr. Zeldin, who ran unsuccessfully against Mr. Bishop in 2008, criticized the congressman for what he called an ineffective effort to obtain funding for Hurricane Sandy recovery. “By the first Memorial Day, Jones Beach had new dunes, new roads, and money was flowing into Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island,” he said in an interview. “Yet the Fire Island to Montauk Point plan is still loaded with projects that haven’t seen a dime. It’s important for our local representative to be our strongest and most effective advocate to get those projects started.”
Mr. Zeldin was also critical of the implementation of the Common Core academic standards, the Affordable Care Act, and the state of veterans’ health care.
Mr. Demos, who is also critical of the Affordable Care Act, has positioned himself as a political outsider not beholden to his party’s establishment. “The defining issues of this campaign are Obamacare and taxes,” he said. “On both issues, Lee Zeldin went to Albany and voted for Obamacare and higher taxes, and I would not have done that.”
Voters, Mr. Demos said, “want someone who’s going to stand up and defend conservative principles regardless of what the establishment says. The problem in Washington is we have too many go-along-to-get-along politicians who take their marching orders from the Republican bosses.”