Gillibrand wins 6-yr term in U.S. Senate

6:18 PM, Nov 7, 2012   |    comments
Photo Courtesy AP
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Gannett Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand breezed to victory Tuesday to win a full six-year Senate term in her race against Republican attorney Wendy Long.

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The Associated Press declared Gillibrand the victor shortly after the polls closed at 9 p.m.

Long, 52, who won a three-way Republican primary in June, had the backing of the Conservative Party. Her campaign never attracted much financial support, which kept her from airing TV ads or gaining name recognition in what was her first campaign for public office.

Long's task was made harder because Gillibrand, 45, an attorney from Brunswick near Albany, agreed to only one televised debate.

Gillibrand debated former Republican Rep. Joe DioGuardi of Westchester County twice during her successful 2010 campaign to serve the two remaining years of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate term. She took 63 percent of the vote in that election.

Long also faced the prospect of heavy Democratic turnout around the state in a presidential election year. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in New York about two-to-one.

Prior to her appointment to the Senate in January 2009, Gillibrand served in the House representing a district in the upper Hudson Valley.

During her campaign against Long, Gillibrand ran TV ads that touted her support for advanced manufacturing, promoted her work for greater transparency in government, and highlighted her role enacting legislation to provide health services for Ground Zero volunteers.

Perhaps as a result of those ads, a recent Siena College poll found Gillibrand's public favorability rating at the same level as Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer's.

Gillibrand also raised an impressive $15.4 million.

Her penchant for raising campaign cash may put her in the running next week to become the next chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which recruits Democrats to run for the Senate and helps raise money for them.

Gillibrand won't be up for re-election until 2018, which gives her the 2014 and 2016 election cycles to build up her "Off the Sidelines'' program that encourages women to run for office.

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