In an election reminiscent of the presidential election, Democrat Tim Bishop, the current representative for New York’s First Congressional District, has attempted to offset the well-funded campaign of his opponent, Republican Randy Altschuler, by targeting his business ventures as CEO of OfficeTiger, an outsourcing company.
Bishop’s most recent campaign ad, “Fortune,” portrays Altschuler as a destroyer of American jobs due to his role in OfficeTiger, a New York-based company, that among other services, helps businesses cut costs by outsourcing jobs to places where labor is cheaper, namely India.
Set up by clips of news articles that depict Altschuler as leading the outsourcing movement in the United States, Bishop attempts, in the ad, to establish a clear distinction between him and Altschuler. “I’m Tim Bishop and we need jobs on Long Island. That’s why I’m fighting to stop corporations that outsource from being eligible for government grants and loans. I approve this message because I believe in the American worker,” Bishop says in his 30-second spot.
According to Robert Pierce, a campaign director for the Bishop campaign, people are positively responding to this campaign’s, and the ad’s, message. He points to a poll of likely voters, released by the Siena College Research Institute last Thursday, showing Bishop ahead of Altschuler, 52 percent to 39 percent. This is a significant lead for Bishop, considering that in 2010, he defeated Altschuler by only 593 votes, less than one percent of the total.
“It really hits Randy on outsourcing well, and since outsourcing is so unpopular, it’s an effective ad,” said one Bishop canvasser, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak on campaign matters. “They are using what works and what people respond to.”
The Altschuler campaign has countered with an ad attack focusing on an alleged quid pro quo agreement between the Bishop campaign and a wealthy hedge fund manager, Eric Semler.
The ad focuses on a story, first reported on Politico, where Bishop helped get a fireworks permit for Semler’s son’s Bar Mitzvah in May. The Altschuler campaign claims that after the favor, Bishop’s campaign attempted to solicit campaign funds from the constituent.
On Tuesday, the nonprofit Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove, spent $260,000 for a large television ad buy, which, according to Newsday, is the first ad buy for the PAC this election cycle. The ad buy is going towards airing the Semler ad, along with another more positive ad showcasing Altschuler as a family man.
This election is key for Republicans, who are trying to prevent Democrats from gaining more control of the House of Representatives. New York, which has voted for every Democratic presidential candidate since 1988, has become somewhat of a battleground state this year in terms of House seats.
According to the Cook Political Report, New York has the closest congressional elections of any state, with eight of New York’s 29 congressional races either too close to call or only slightly leaning toward one party. Republicans have slowly gained ground in New York, as Republicans gained five House members from New York in 2010, leaving them with a total of eight Representatives.
At least on a superficial level, many elements of this campaign recall several in the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney.
Much like the Obama campaign, the Bishop campaign is portraying itself as the defender of the middle-class by contrasting the professorial Bishop, the former Provost of Southampton College, and his governmental roots, with Altschuler, a wealthy, Ivy-League educated businessman.
“I grew up here, I raised my family here. And in Congress, I’m fighting to protect our middle-class families,” reads the Bishop campaign literature, suggesting Obama’s appeals to the middle class.
On the back of the handbill, the text reads “Randy Altschuler: his business is outsourcing,” mimicking Obama’s attacks on Romney, which chastised him for supposedly outsourcing jobs to China during his time at Bain Capital.
The disparities in personal net worth in this House race are also comparable to the one in the presidential election. According to the Long Island Press, Altschuler has an estimated net worth of about $30 million, while Bishop’s net worth is estimated to be between $851,005 to $1,715,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
In the presidential election, Mitt Romney’s net worth is around $190 to $250 million, while President Obama’s is around $10 million, according to USA Today. This means Romney’s net worth is about 19-25 times that of Obama’s, while Altschuler’s net worth is about 17-35 times that of Bishop’s.
However, the Obama campaign is not faring as well as Bishop. The same Siena poll that shows Bishop ahead by 13 percentage points has Obama and Romney tied at 47 percent.