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New York's U.S. Senate race is contest of contrasts

The contest for the one U.S. Senate seat from New York that is up for grabs starts in full force after Labor Day. And, for the first time ever, two women are pitted against each other in a statewide race. A Republican political unknown faces the Democrat chosen to fill the shoes of Hillary Clinton when she became Secretary of State. The two candidates visited the New York State Fair last week, admitting their names may still be unknown to many New Yorkers.Even though she leads in the latest Sienna poll by 43 percent, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand admits she still has a bit of a name recognition issue.

"Well I'm still relatively new -- I've only been in this job a little over three years -- so people don't necessarily know who I am in all parts of the state, so when you see a snapshot in time, the polls will show that," Gillibrand said. "So i keep introducing myself to the state so people know who I am."

Gillibrand has over $10 million in campaign coffers to help her do that.  

On the other side of the race, Manhattan attorney Wendy Long has a fraction of that to get her story out.

"We'll raise a lot more than we have now.  We'll raise what we need to run a good campaign," said Long. "And I've said it before and I'll say it again, I would not want to defend Kirsten Gillibrand's record with $10 million, and  I'd rather be Wendy Long with a low budget campaign."

Long believes she has a chance because the campaign is a race of two political ideologies against each other.

"There's a very stark contrast. I mean she is a far left ultra-liberal," said Long of her opponent. "She's been labeled by an independent journal, National Journal, as the number one liberal in the U.S. Senate, and I'm a Reagan Conservative.  So it's a really nice contrast, and I think that's good.  I think that's what the voters deserve. I don't think elections should be about personalities."  

The incumbent Gillibrand agrees that the election offers a stark contrast that will become clearer as election day gets closer.  The two have agreed to one debate in October at Skidmore College in Saratoga.

"I think it will be a great opportunity for folks in the state to see the differences between us.  And I'm gonna talk about what I'm fighting for and what I believe in," said Gillibrand, "My manufacturing agenda, small businesses, economic growth, and they'll have the ability to assess who we fight for and who we believe in."

This is the second time Gillibrand has run for Senate since she was appointed in 2009 to Replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Long won a three way primary race in June to get the Republican nomination.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.