Rep. Tim Bishop (D)
New York 1st District
Long Island—“the Island” to most New Yorkers—is the largest and most populous island in the mainland United States. It stretches 103 miles, from the two-century-old Montauk Point lighthouse on a crumbling bluff at its eastern extremity to Fort Hamilton at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Ranging from 12 to 20 miles wide, Long Island is ringed by gentle hills and cliffs above Long Island Sound and sand-spit beaches that front the Atlantic Ocean. Including the populations of Brooklyn and Queens, some 7.5 million people live on Long Island, more than in all but 12 states. Brooklyn, at the island’s western end, is urban and thickly settled, while the Hamptons in the east are carefully manicured countryside, preserved as a playground for the New York elite. Demographically, the Hamptons are only a small part of Long Island. More important economically are the suburbs created in the post-World War II migration out of the city.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Developers looking for cheaper land for aircraft factories, shopping centers, subdivisions, and office parks found them first in Nassau County, just east of Queens, and then farther out in Suffolk County. Suffolk attracted young families of Irish and Italian descent looking for more space and less crime. More recently the county has been attracting Latinos, who are now 13% of the population and include Salvadorans and Puerto Ricans in lower-income areas. Over the past 30 years, the island’s economy soured as defense plants were decimated by the end of the Cold War, cost overruns on nuclear plants led to electricity rate increases, and young people fled older suburbs for jobs elsewhere. The Bush administration’s defense buildup resulted in a temporary increase in defense jobs at Northrop Grumman, and the Long Island Power Authority wants to build wind farms and run underwater cables from Connecticut to bring more energy across Long Island Sound. High taxes and expensive housing remain endemic problems.
The 1st Congressional District of New York consists of the eastern end of Long Island and covers eastern Suffolk County. It runs as far west as Smithtown on the North Shore and Patchogue on the South Shore. It includes Shelter Island, located between the north and south forks of Long Island’s “fishtail,” and Plum Island, which houses the nation’s only animal infection research site, operated by the Homeland Security Department but scheduled to be closed in 2015 and replaced by a lab in Kansas. A few farmers remain on Long Island, where they grow sweet corn and pumpkins. The 1st District includes two areas frequented in the summer by urban sophisticates: the Hamptons, with their extravagant prices, and most of Fire Island National Seashore, the only federal wilderness area in New York state and a magnet for gay vacationers for decades. The district also includes Brookhaven National Laboratory, a physics research lab, and the defense plants in the center of the Island. Suffolk County was long one of the most conservative parts of New York, though not very conservative by today’s national standards. Republican voter registration remains robust, despite the district’s trending Democratic in recent presidential elections. The district voted solidly for Democrat Al Gore in 2000 but swung narrowly to Republican George W. Bush in 2004—a September 11 effect. It backed Democratic nominee Barack Obama in 2008.
Rep. Tim Bishop (D)
Elected: 2002, 4th term.
Born: June 1, 1950, Southampton .
Education: Holy Cross Col., A.B. 1972; Long Island U., M.P.A. 1981.
Family: Married (Kathy); 2 children.
Professional Career: Admin., Southampton College, 1973-2002.
The representative from the 1st District is Tim Bishop, a Democrat elected in 2002. He grew up in Southampton, the son of a telephone lineman, and graduated from Holy Cross College and Long Island University. He spent his entire professional career at Southampton College, where he began in 1973 as an admissions counselor and by 1986 had become provost. He chaired the town of Southampton’s Board of Ethics and was on the board of the Eastern Long Island Coastal Conservation Alliance. Few paid much attention when Bishop announced he would oppose Rep. Felix Grucci, the first-term Republican who had won the seat in 2000. That year, Mike Forbes, a Republican elected in 1994 as part of the GOP revolution, lost the low-turnout Democratic primary by 35 votes to Regina Seltzer after he switched from the Republican Party and became a Democrat. The turn of events allowed Grucci to easily win the general election, 56%-41%.
|Tim Bishop (D-Ind-WF)||162,083||(58%)||($1,478,623)|
|Lee Zeldin (R-C)||115,545||(42%)||($864,720)|
|Tim Bishop (D-Ind-WF)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (62%), 2004 (56%), 2002 (50%)
Grucci seemed headed for re-election in 2002 when, in late September, he ran an ad accusing Bishop of falsifying rape statistics at Southampton College and “turning his back on rape victims.” This turned out to be untrue. The basis for the allegations was several college newspaper articles riddled with inaccuracies. Grucci’s campaign refused to repudiate the ad, on the ground that no correction had ever appeared in print. National Democrats saw an opportunity to pick up a seat, and soon the airwaves were saturated with ads attacking Grucci both for the rape commercial and for his voting record on the environment. In one spot, the Grucci family’s famed fireworks enterprise was linked to the chemical contamination of local drinking water. Republican operatives privately fumed that Grucci had failed to tell them about the college rape ad and that he had blundered in failing to offer a positive message. Bishop won 50%-49%.
In the House, Bishop compiled a voting record near the center of House Democrats. He opposed the war in Iraq and supported abortion rights and a rollback of the Bush tax cuts. With his extensive background in academia, he played a leading role on the Education and Labor Committee in the 2008 higher education bill that enacted spending increases for colleges and universities. And he has championed more federal funding to help schools adapt to the demands of the 2001 No Child Left Behind law. Bishop lobbied for $100 million for Long Island schools in the economic stimulus bill enacted in February 2009. With California Democrat Hilda Solis, he won passage of an amendment in 2005 to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from testing pesticides on humans. One of his key issues is adjusting the alternative minimum tax to stop it from ensnaring middle-class taxpayers; the tax was created to ensure that the wealthy pay at least some taxes.
On local issues, Bishop successfully fought proposed cutbacks at Brookhaven and sought funds for a third track on the Long Island Railroad. Like other members of Congress representing vacation spots, he has sought to increase seasonal worker visas. Mindful of the high turnover rate in the district in recent years, Bishop has paid close attention to constituent services.
Republicans think of Bishop as a prime target, but they have not been able to seriously threaten him in recent elections. In 2004, their nominee was Bill Manger, who served four years as a village trustee in Southampton. He emphasized his independence from national Republicans and attacked Bishop for opposing tax cuts. But Bishop won handily, 56%-44%. Since then, he has won twice, barely breaking a sweat against political novices who were too conservative for the area. Voting trends in the state and on the Island are going Bishop’s way.