Updated 10/17/2012 10:38 AM
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Wendy Long set to debate
Republican Wendy Long is challenging Democratic Incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand for the U.S. Senate seat. The two square off Wednesday night in their first and only debate. Zack Fink takes a closer look at the race.
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Kirsten Gillibrand is taking the power of incumbency into her race. According to the most recent campaign filing, she has more than $10 million in cash on hand.
So formidable is her warchest that she has been hosting fundraisers for other women candidates, as women's issues have been one of the focal points of her campaign.
"I'm Kirsten Gillibrand and I approve this message because if 51% of Congress was women, we wouldn't be debating contraception. We'd be debating jobs and the economy."
Gillibrand was appointed to the seat in 2009 by then Governor David Paterson. She then stood for election and won a year later. Criticized at the time for how the appointment was handled, Paterson says the Senator has grown into a very strong incumbent.
"When you think about it, Senator Gillibrand will be coming up on her fourth year in the United States Senate. Two of those years she was running for re-election, unlike the other Senators," Paterson said.
By comparison, conservative Manhattan attorney Wendy Long has raised just a few hundred thousand dollars, and has less than a hundred thousand dollars on hand.
After winning a three-way primary in June, Long has struggled to make traction with her candidacy ever since; something she acknowledged in an interview Monday night on YNN.
"It's really difficult. New York is a big state, but we've been running a great grassroots campaign. She has a big advantage obviously as an incumbent. Big advantage with money," Long said.
Polls have shown Gillibrand with a comfortable lead. Some have suggested she is now raising her national profile; either in a bid to run the Democratic Senatorial campaign committee, or even a dark horse Presidential run.
"She ran in a very difficult Congressional seat and won twice. She has operated well upstate, she has worked well down in New York City. She has a real sense of the entire state," Paterson said.
Both women bring starkly different ideologies and worldviews into the upcoming debate. The showdown kicks off Wednesday night.
YNN will carry the debate between Senator Gillibrand and Wendy Long at Skidmore College at 7 p.m. Wednesday. You can watch it live, or online, streaming on YNN.com.