With the Republican primary set for Sept. 14, and New York's First Congressional District, which includes Smithtown, under contention, campaign activity is picking up in the Town of Smithtown, home to over 22,200 registered Republicans, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections.
The district seat is made up of central and eastern Suffolk County and consists of the Towns of Brookhaven, Riverhead, Southold, Southampton, East Hampton, and Shelter Island, in addition to Smithtown.
Incumbent U.S. Rep Tim Bishop, D- Southampton, has held the seat since 2003 and faces three potential Republican challengers this November: Christopher Cox, Randy Altschuler and George Demos.
Both Cox and Altschuler have campaign centers in Smithtown and have actively been about town campaigning. On Aug. 24, Chris Cox held a campaign barbeque at the Smithtown Historical Society. On Aug. 31, Randy Altschuler held an endorsement rally in front of Smithtown Town Hall.
Yet, Smithtown groups are split on their endorsements between the conservative candidates.
Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Smithtown, publicly endorsed Cox, the grandson of Richard Nixon, back in June.
"I'm eager to help Chris Cox fight for Long Island on the fiscal issues that plague our nation as they plague New York State," Fitzpatrick said. "After eight years in the Assembly, I already know what damage New York Democrats have done to the taxpayers of Long Island. Chris Cox is a true conservative and, with the help of Republicans, principled Conservatives and Tea Party supporters, is poised to win in November."
Town of Smithtown Councilmen Robert J. Creighton, Kevin J. Malloy, Thomas J. McCarthy, Edward R. Wertheim, Town Clerk Vincent Puleo, Superintendent of Highways Glenn Jorgensen and Receiver of Taxes Deanna Varricchio have all endorsed Altschuler.
"We formally endorse Randy Altschuler in his campaign to return control of the First Congressional District Seat to the Republican Party," the group said in a statement. "Randy Altschuler's life experience, private sector skills and belief in Republican principles make him uniquely qualified to serve in Congress. As a proven job creator and believer in the free enterprise system, he will be able to take Tim Bishop to task for his support of the big spending, high taxing, job killing agenda of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama."
Demos received an editorial endorsement from The Smithtown News.
"[He] has local roots, has always been a Republican, is not afraid to answer any question put to him and is a willing debater," the editorial read. "He is articulate, hard-charging and unafraid. Mr. Demos has been the lightning rod in the Republican primary and he will be a strong candidate for the GOP. The News endorses Mr. Demos as the best Republican in the field."
The Smithtown Historical Society, the site of various recent political events in the area, is not endorsing any candidate.
"The groups just rent our grounds," Historical Society Executive Director Kiernan Lannon said. "The Society does not endorse any candidates."
Meanwhile, Bishop still has considerable support in the Smithtown area, with 20,986 registered democrats in the Town of Smithtown, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections.
"About 40-50 supporters come in [to the Smithtown Campaign Headquarters] every week from around the community to volunteer," said Audrey Kubetin, Bishop's press secretary.
Follow our coverage of the first district race in Smithtown next week.