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Dems, Conservatives tap U.S. Senate picks

Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand at her office

Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand at her office in Washington DC. (Feb. 15, 2012) Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

Democrats nominated Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for re-election yesterday, shortly before the state Conservative Party gave its backing for the seat to Wendy Long, a New York City attorney.

Gillibrand is running for her first full six-year term and the action by state Democratic committee members was expected. Gillibrand told the crowd she would fight for all New Yorkers.

"I have a goal -- we want to make sure all of our voices are being heard," Gillibrand said.

Gillibrand also was endorsed by the liberal Working Families Party as several parties focused on the Senate race.

New York Conservative Party leaders made their choice in Manhattan late.

Conservative Party chairman Mike Long had spoken in favor of Wendy Long, who's in a Republican primary with U.S. Rep. Robert Turner (R-Rockaway Point) and Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos. The Conservative line is considered vital to Republicans running for statewide office in New York. The two Longs aren't related.

Wendy Long said her campaign would "bring people together on the issues that matter the most to New Yorkers, jobs and the economy."

Gillibrand, a former upstate congresswoman, was picked in 2009 to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton, who became secretary of state. Gillibrand won election in 2010 to fill the remainder of the term, which ends this year.

Gillibrand's favorable ratings have nudged up recently and she has raised more than $8 million in a state where Democrats have a 2-1 enrollment advantage over Republicans.

The lesser-known candidates seeking to challenge her are expected to face an uphill battle.

Still, Republicans, who met Friday in Rochester for their convention, said Gillibrand remains vulnerable after three years in the Senate. Republican voters will choose among the three candidates in a June 26 primary vote.

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