MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — Republicans and their supporters have pumped millions of dollars into a primary race between two conservative candidates hoping to unseat a Democratic incumbent seeking his seventh term representing a wide swath of eastern Long Island.
Lee Zeldin, a state senator, is facing off against former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer George Demos, who is making his third attempt at winning the 1st Congressional District seat. The winner of Tuesday's primary faces incumbent Democratic Rep. Timothy Bishop, a former university provost, in November.
Ian Prior, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Campaign, last week called Bishop "one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the country." He cited Bishop's support of the Affordable Care Act and an ongoing ethics complaint that was filed against Bishop during the 2012 campaign.
Prior said the NRCC is reserving $1.1 million in cable TV time for ads to support either Zeldin or Demos.
More than $1.2 million has already been spent on the GOP primary by outside super PACs seeking to portray their opposition as too liberal to merit Republican support, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The PACs have spent $854,289 against Zeldin and $380,344 against Demos.
Zeldin has the support of the local county organization, and last week welcomed outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to a Hamptons fundraiser. Demos, who ran in both 2010 and 2012, has received the backing of former New York Gov. George Pataki and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani; both have recorded television commercials for Demos.
Demos was an SEC enforcement attorney from 2002 to 2009, and worked as a member of the Bernard Madoff prosecution team.
Zeldin is serving his second two-year term in the state Senate. He is an Army veteran who served in Iraq.