New York Democrat Chuck Schumer easily defeated his Republican challenger Tuesday, winning a fourth term in the U.S. Senate and putting himself in position to possibly become majority leader.
There was no suspense in Schumer’s lopsided victory over Manhattan attorney Wendy Long, who waged her second unsuccessful long-shot campaign for a Senate seat.
“There’s a chance that I could become the majority leader,” Schumer said to cheers Tuesday night at an outdoor rally in Manhattan for Hillary Clinton, his former Senate colleague.
“But I promise you that if I get that chance, I will be working harder for New York than ever, because I love New York,” he said. “It’s in my bones.”
He promised to raise the minimum wage, pass comprehensive immigration reform and “finally get a functioning Supreme Court of the United States with nine judges.”
For Democrats to retake the Senate, they needed to pick up four or five seats, depending on which party claimed the White House. Control of the Senate remained undecided late Tuesday.
Schumer is the favorite to be picked by his colleagues to succeed Harry Reid, the minority leader who is retiring next year.
In winning another six-year term, Schumer, 65, of Brooklyn maintained an impressive streak: He has won every race he’s entered, dating back to 1975, when he ran for a state Assembly seat at age 23.
During the race, Long, 56, criticized Schumer as a Washington insider climbing the political ladder in pursuit of power. She embraced Donald Trump’s populist message and warned that the country was headed in the wrong direction.
She did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday night.
New York Republican Party chairman Ed Cox in a statement thanked Long “for stepping forward to run against Washington’s special interests and the corrupt political establishment.”
Four years ago, Long ran against New York’s other Democratic senator, Kirsten E. Gillibrand, losing by a record 46 percentage points.
Late returns Tuesday showed Schumer on pace to challenge that victory margin.
Also on the ballot were Libertarian Party candidate Alex Merced and Green Party candidate Robin Laverne Wilson.
Schumer’s aides said he didn’t formally campaign for re-election, instead keeping up his vigorous pace of news conferences and focusing on helping other Democratic candidates.
Schumer raised more than $24 million this election and spent more than $13 million, according to federal campaign filings and nonprofit campaign finance watchdogs. That spending includes giving more than $6 million to help Democrats in competitive Senate races.
Long, a former law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, raised $631,000 and spent under a half-million dollars.
In his current term, Schumer led Senate passage of a comprehensive immigration bill and orchestrated approval of $60 billion in federal funds for recovery after superstorm Sandy in 2012.
He broke with President Barack Obama to oppose the Iran nuclear deal.
With Laura Figueroa