Under threat from the Republican who almost beat him last year, Tim Bishop forms a leadership PAC

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Kirsten Gillibrand and Tim Bishop. (Tim Bishop, via flickr)
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Long Island congressman Tim Bishop has established a leadership PAC, according to the FEC web site.

Bishop, a five-term incumbent, is one of New York's most endangered House incumbents. He is already facing two announced opponents, including Randy Altschuler, a Republican businessman who nearly upset him last year, in the very last congressional race in that cycle to be decided. (Altschuler attended the orientation for new members before finally finding out on Dec. 8 that he wouldn't be joining them.) Altschuler, who largely funded his own campaign, outspent Bishop by nearly $3 million dollars.

The new PAC doesn't allow Bishop to spend directly on his own re-election, but the rules are loose, and it can help fund his travel and allow him to hire more staff, along with contributing to the campaigns of other candidates who might, in turn, feel inclined to help Bishop win re-election. And, as is common with these committees, the name of the PAC appears to be an awkward acronym, in this case, for Bishop's own name: It's called the Building Infra[S]tructure Harnessing Our Priorities PAC.

(One need not be in the House leadership, or anywhere near it, to form a leadership PAC, and Bishop joins several of his colleagues in the delegation in forming one.)

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Bishop raised just over $3 million dollars for his 2010 re-election, and he is already aggressively raising for next year. He raised $305,000 in the third quarter, giving him just under a million dollars in cash on hand.

Altschuler has been raising too—just over half a million dollars so far this year, with $422,000 on hand.

Also declared is George Demos, another Republican challenger, who came in second to Altschuler in the three-way primary last year. Demos has raised $76,725 for next year's race. 

A spokesman for Bishop did not immediately return a request for comment.

UPDATE: Bishop spokesman Oliver Longwell emailed the following explanation: "Congressman Bishop credits a strong field operation with helping secure his victory in 2010, and he established a leadership PAC to help Democrats in competitive contests like his own build the kind of on-the-ground political infrastructure that wins close races."