By William Lewis
The Republican statewide primary for the U.S. Senate saw attorney Wendy Long win a decisive victory over opponents U.S. Rep. Robert Turner (R-Middle Village) and Nassau County Controller George Maragos.
There were some political writers who believed that since Turner was an incumbent congressman after winning a competitive race last year, he had the advantage of name recognition. They did not appreciate, however, the Long phenomenon and her ability to present the issues in such a way to gain support.
In addition to Long’s support from Republican county organizations, especially upstate, she had strong backing from the state Conservative Party and support from many Tea Party affiliates. What is also important is that many of Long’s voters believed strongly about their candidate and were willing to put forth a determined effort on her behalf.
Turner would have been far better off running for Congress, possibly in the 6th Congressional District. Had he done so, it would have vastly improved his chances of success. He got into the Senate race late and seemed to think that with his name recognition from last year’s win that Republican and Conservative state committeemen would desert Long and support him.
It did not happen. Delegates who had declared their endorsement for Long continued to support her candidacy.
As for Maragos, the third candidate in the primary, outside of Nassau and Suffolk counties he never really had much of a chance. According to present results, Maragos got only 13 percent of the vote compared to 36 percent for Turner and 51 percent for Long.
Election night at Long’s headquarters in Manhattan’s Sheraton Hotel was a happy occasion. Periodic reports of election results in various counties showed that Long was on the way to an impressive victory. When the Associated Press projected her as the winner of the primary election at 10:45 p.m., the guests in the room broke out into applause.
When Long came to make her victory speech, it was Mike Long, the Conservative Party chairman, who introduced her to the enthusiastic crowd. Long spoke proudly about her Conservative support and wants a unified working relationship between the Republican and Conservative parties regarding her campaign.
During Long’s victory speech, she contrasted her views with those of her opponent, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). Their views are different, with Gillibrand having a reputation of being one of the most liberal senators in the Senate. Long has continually worked for conservative causes throughout her legal career.
The forthcoming television debates between Long and Gillibrand should prove to be interesting, considering their differences in dealing with political, economic and social issues.
Neither candidate at this point has huge name recognition among the general population, but this is a presidential election year with an important race occurring. This will increase the interest of the voting population in other races as well.
Gillibrand begins with a large amount of financial resources at her disposal in addition to a lead in the polls, but Long, by winning the Republican primary by such a large margin, has increased her chances of obtaining large fund-raising and increasingly becoming known by voters of all political parties.
There will be many interesting races this year in Queens and throughout the state. This Senate campaign will certainly be one of the most interesting.