On Monday morning, decorated U.S. Marine Corps veteran and former East Hampton Town Republican Chairman John Behan announced his endorsement of incumbent Congressman Tim Bishop. Bishop, a Democrat, is facing Republican, Conservative and Independence Party candidate Randy Altschuler in the race for U.S. Congress this fall.
Altschuler is seeking to unseat Bishop for the second time. Two years ago he lost his first run for political office by fewer than 600-votes — one of the narrowest margins of victory in a Congressional race in 2010.
Behan was the East End’s representative in the New York State Assembly from 1978 to 1995 and has earned iconic status for his work, politically and in veterans’ affairs. Behan was a driving force behind the establishment of the New York State Assembly’s Veterans Affairs Committee and also served as Director of the state’s Division of Veterans’ Affairs from 1995 to 1998.
Behan was the chairman of the East Hampton Town Republican Committee in 2009, stepping down in 2010 and leaving the committee for good in 2011. Last year, Behan’s wife, Marilyn, ran unsuccessfully as an Independence Party candidate for a seat on the East Hampton Town Board.
During his announcement, at the new Montauk eatery La Bodega on Monday morning, Behan attempted to dispel rumors that the endorsement was a result of his ire with the East Hampton Republican Committee for not supporting his wife as a candidate for East Hampton Town Board. While Behan said he remained critical of that decision, and cited the failure of the committee to elect two new town board members, the endorsement of Bishop was about people, not politics.
“I like a guy who is homegrown and knows the district like the back of his hand,” said Behan. “That is Tim Bishop. He works hard for veterans too.”
“Tim Bishop is a native East Ender who understands our local issues and works across the aisle to deliver results for our community — especially our fishermen and farmers,” added Behan in a press release issued after Monday’s announcement. “In addition, hundreds of local veterans are better off today as a direct result of his dedicated efforts, and I am also proud to endorse him based on respect for veterans and hard work on their behalf.”
“John Behan’s service to our nation and our East End Community is unparalleled, and I am honored and humbled to accept his endorsement of my re-election,” said Congressman Bishop. “John always put public service above politics, and this is also an endorsement of my bipartisan approach to working with local officials and my success in bringing federal resources to the table to solve local problems.”
“Today’s endorsement was really about local politics, and has no impact on the tremendous momentum Randy has right now,” said Altschuler campaign manager Diana Weir, another East Hampton political heavyweight. “We released a specific 10-point jobs plan focused on fixing Long Island’s economy; we have won endorsements from the New York State Independence Party, the Suffolk County Conservative Party and the Suffolk County Republican Party; and our primary opponent just dropped out of the race allowing us to focus 100 percent on the general election where voters will be faced with a clear choice between a self-made businessman and job creator like Randy Altschuler and a career bureaucrat turned politician who has destroyed jobs on Long Island like Tim Bishop.”
“Of course Randy Altschuler doesn’t understand the importance of local endorsements,” said Bishop campaign spokesman Robert Pierce. “He isn’t local. He moved to Long Island to run for office a few years ago. John Behan is a man of honor and integrity. He has dedicated his entire life to serving his country and the people of Eastern Long Island. Congressman Bishop is proud of this endorsement by an East End icon. Both John Behan and Congressman Bishop agree that bipartisanship is good for middle class Suffolk County families.”