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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand keeps U.S. Senate seat

Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand defeated Republican challenger Wendy Long Tuesday, winning her first full six-year term.

Gillibrand, 45, was appointed in 2009 when then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton became U.S. Secretary of State and won an election in 2010 to fill the remainder of Clinton's term.

"I can't thank you enough for the honor and privilege of continuing to serve this state and to fight for New York families," Gillibrand said in a victory speech at a state Democratic Party celebration in Manhattan.

During the campaign, Gillibrand touted her role in the passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The bill, passed in 2010, provides medical coverage to 9/11 rescue workers who became sick after working in Ground Zero.

"My record is really about making sure there is a voice for the voiceless, to make sure those that don't have advocacy groups are heard," Gillibrand told Newsday in October.

Long, 52, a Manhattan attorney who defeated two challengers in the Republican primary, had described her race as "an uphill battle," but said she had hoped to stage an upset running on a platform calling for tax cuts and smaller government.

In a 10-minute concession speech delivered at the state GOP election gathering in Manhattan, Long said she was "disappointed" that Gillibrand "never really engaged on the main issues that confront New York and Americans in this campaign -- our crushing national debt, taxes, spending, the state of our economy, jobs."

Gillibrand raised $15.5 million and spent $14 million on the race.

Long raised $722,020 and spent $614,798.

Polls consistently showed Gillibrand with a wide lead over Long.

An Oct. 26 Siena College Poll showed Gillibrand ahead by 67 percent to 24 percent.

Gillibrand previously served in the House, and as special counsel to then-U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew M. Cuomo. Gillibrand, a graduate of Dartmouth College and UCLA School of Law, began her career as a corporate attorney. She is married and has two children.

Long was a spokeswoman for two U.S. senators and clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Northwestern School of Law. She is married with two children.

Despite the loss, New York State GOP spokesman Andrew Laska said Gillibrand "is put on notice now," to expect a future challenge.

With Tom Brune, Scott Eidler and Mackenzie Issler

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