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Bishop forecasts a tough race ahead as he seeks his sixth term, but he said the climate was better for him than it was two years ago.
"Look, in '08, I won by 47,000 votes. In '10, I won by 593. I'm still the same guy," he said. "A presidential year brings out a different electorate, an electorate that, I believe, will be more favorably disposed to me."
The Congressman emphasized his intense work ethic. He said he works 70 to 80 hours each week for the district and that his office has closed more than 15,000 constituent cases since he first took the oath in 2003. He described himself as a "nonpartisan, solution-oriented problem solver."
Beyond the messaging though, if Bishop has a true vulnerability this cycle, it's the mismatch between his district and his voting record. Republicans hold a voter registration advantage in the district, which George W. Bush narrowly won in 2004 and Barack Obama carried by 3 points in 2008. According to a new CQ Vote Study, in 2011, Bishop voted 95 percent of the time with Democrats in votes where a majority of Democrats voted against a majority of Republicans, hardly positioning himself as a down-the-middle type of Member.
But Bishop said his constituents support his opposition to the "extreme" GOP agenda. Asked whether Obama could win his district this year, Bishop said he didn't know. But, he added, "I don't believe my fortunes are tied to the president."
Long Island sits in the New York media market, which makes advertising extremely expensive — and fundraising extremely important.
According to preliminary numbers, Bishop pulled about $200,000 in the fourth quarter of last year and had about $1.1 million in the bank at the end of December, a solid way to start the election year.
Altschuler raised more than $210,000 in the last quarter and had $580,000 in cash on hand at the end of last month.
In a sign of national Republicans' interest in the race, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) will headline a fundraiser for Altschuler next month in New York City.
Altschuler has the potential to partially self-fund. Asked about putting his own money in the race, which he has yet to do this cycle, the businessman was coy.
"We will have the resources we need to win this race," he said.