Kirsten Gillibrand and Wendy Long Battle in NY Senate Race With National Implications

MiSay you’re from Wyoming or any other state in the Union; why care about what happens in New York? It’s straightforward, isn’t it? Two women, incumbent Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (pronounced Jill-i-brand), and Wendy Long are running for the open United States Senate seat. There will be no gender politics here, but, whoever wins in November, the result will be a game-changer for one of them or a possible stepping-stone for the other.

At first glance, the two seem a lot alike. Both are Catholic, Dartmouth graduates and lawyers; both have clerked for federal judges, worked at prestigious, corporate law firms, are married and have two children. Both are white and have blond hair. Gillibrand, age 45, is the younger of the two. Long is 52. Both agree that creating jobs, spurring the economy and protecting our country are priorities.

But, they have different approaches. There are enormous differences in their politics, as well as who they align themselves with and how they view the world.

Long, who has never held public office, is an anti-candidate: anti-immigration reform, anti-same sex marriage, anti-affirmative action, anti-abortion, anti-Obamacare and links positions she does not like to Kirsten Gillibrand. The most recent was a July 2, Huff Post article that quotes Long suggesting that Americans soldiers have not sacrificed their lives so that American women can have access to contraception. Huh? 

On her website, she says that she wants “equality for all.” Her actions and affiliations belie what she says. Interestingly, she has been and continues to be a legal adviser to Mitt Romney. However, when it comes to whether there will be a “tax” or a “penalty” imposed on all Americans who do not have health care insurance, Romney agrees with President Obama that it is a “penalty.” Long aligns herself with the Republican hard-liners and insists that it is a “tax.”

A Long win would be an upset victory and a game changer for the Republicans and would help to change the balance of power both within the State, not unlike Governor Pataki’s win over former Governor Mario Cuomo, and the Senate.

Gilibrand, a native New Yorker, was a twice-elected House member representing the 20th Congressional District of New York, which is Republican and upstate territory. She values human rights, and her positions include pro-marriage equality, pro-freedom of choice, pro-health care for all and pro-immigration reform.

To highlight some of Gillibrand’s achievements during her short two-year Senate tenure, she has authored the Medicare and Medicaid Fraud Enforcement Prevention Act that will save the United States economy $80 billion and New York State approximately $5 billion. She helped to repeal landmark legislation for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell” policy. Most recently, she helped in advancing the 9/11 health care bill that will protect workers who were at the World Trade Center site, and a food safety bill.

Should Gillibrand win, she will follow in the footsteps of two New York Senators who are household names: Robert Kennedy and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Likewise, a win for her may be the launching pad for her becoming the first woman president of the United States in 2016.

What organizations are endorsing the candidates’ respective campaigns?

Long counts among her supporters: the National Organization for Marriage; the Conservative Party of New York, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms and the Susan B. Anthony list, a group of independent wealthy women, who contribute to Republican, conservative women to help support their getting elected and the Judicial Confirmation Network. Gillibrand’s endorsements have come from Emily’s List, which is the Democratic equivalent to the Susan B. Anthony List, Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the Human Rights Campaign.

Noting the disparate views, it should be a clear and easy choice. While the odds are in Gillibrand’s favor, we can never underestimate the power of Republican money and influence. With the increasing disenchantment of Obama and the Democrats nationally, we don’t know what will happen. The Democrats need to win this election to help them retain their majority. The Republicans want this election as part of their attempt to gain control of the Senate. Make no mistake. This will be a hotly debated, closely watched and expensive campaign.

Wendy Long and Kirsten Gillibrand may share similar backgrounds. And now their job is to convince New Yorkers as to who they think is the best qualified to represent them. It’s a no-brainer. I will give my unconditional support to Kirsten Gillibrand.

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Ann Jackowitz

Ann Jackowitz writes and lectures on social injustice, gender inequality, LGBT issues, minority women including Jewish women, fundraising (with years as a senior exec at non-profit organizations) and breast cancer advocacy (she represented SHARE on the NBCC's board. of directors) She has produced films and written on "Anna O," an early inspiration for Freud's use of the "talking cure."

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