Niagara Gazette

Local News

October 7, 2012

Wendy Long continues her uphill fight


Niagara Gazette — Long served as chief counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, a conservative advocacy group, a role in which she argued against President Barack Obama's 2009 nomination of fellow New Yorker Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court. She previously clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Earlier in her career, she was a press secretary for two Republican senators and worked for the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life. As a college student, she worked at the Dartmouth Review, a conservative newspaper run by students.

In Gillibrand, Long faces an opponent who has worked hard to cement her position since 2009, when she was the surprise appointment to take Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's old seat. The unknown congresswoman who represented a largely rural district was judged too unaccomplished, too right-leaning and too upstate.

Gillibrand shifted to the left on guns rights and some other issues, slowly built statewide support and easily won election in 2010 against a little-known former congressman to fill out the last two years of the term.

New York Republicans have for years argued that Gillibrand is vulnerable, but they were unable to lure a prominent name to challenge her in 2010 or this year. Though not well known, Long has the credentials and talent to excite the base, which became clear after she wowed a meeting of state Conservative Party leaders early this year.

"Immediately, the leaders up and down the state of New York were excited about her running," said Michael Long, the longtime chairman of the state Conservative Party. Long, who is not related to the candidate, became a key backer after their first meeting.

Long easily won a three-way primary in June in a race in which she promoted her opposition to any tax increases and to same-sex marriage and her support for gun rights. But the social conservatism Long highlighted plays poorly with a New York electorate in which there are almost twice as many Democrats as Republicans.

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