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Queens GOP lawmaker stops here to promote bid for U.S. Senate

Erie County is key to any Republican seeking statewide office, and Rep. Bob Turner of Queens said Monday he will spend time here in his bid to win the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Turner said he has no quarrel with his two opponents in the Republican primary, Manhattan attorney Wendy Long and Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos.

"These are fine people," he said while grabbing a beef on weck at Charlie the Butcher in Cheektowaga.

"I really don't have issue problems with them. We're on the same page with many of these things. I bring a business practicality and business sense to [the primary race]."

But the retired cable company executive said he has the momentum coming off his victory last September in a special election for the House seat vacated by Anthony Wiener, a Democrat who resigned in a sex scandal.

Turner won in a heavily Democratic district. Because of that, he has the name recognition that can't be bought in the New York City media, he said.

He was able to quickly gain the support of enough Republicans at the state convention last month when he jumped into the Senate race after his congressional district fell victim to redistricting. Several days after announcing his candidacy, he won support from just over 25 percent of the delegates, to get his name on the June 26 primary ballot.

Turner also has what he said is a successful team that can help him reach voters statewide to defeat Democratic Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, the same way he reached voters in Queens and Brooklyn.

One way to reach them is to hammer on the sluggish economy and tie Gillibrand to President Obama.

Turner will hold a news conference today blaming the president for rising gasoline prices. Turner contends that Obama and Gillibrand are blocking actions that would reduce the price of gas and the country's dependence on foreign oil.

"She's been in lock-step with the president's policies," Turner said. "She has a liberal voting record, in lock-step, pretty much told what to do by the unions and other special interests."

Turner said he's not sure how tough Gillibrand will be, although she has the lead in name recognition today. But he said she does not have the right answers on energy, jobs, the economy and health care.

"This is going to be an issue-oriented campaign," he said, adding, "I certainly hope it's not a beauty contest, because then I'm in trouble."