For noted Manhattan attorney Wendy E. Long, you would think running for the U.S. Senate ranks as “been there, done that” after her unsuccessful challenge to Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand in 2012.
But now she is poised to take on three-term incumbent Sen. Charles E. Schumer, expected to become Senate Democratic leader in 2017 and politically invincible over more than four decades in politics. And she couldn’t be more upbeat.
Following her unanimous nomination by the Republican State Convention at the Marriott HarborCenter in Buffalo on Friday, Long embarks on an uphill battle – make that a virtual defiance of gravity – against the Washington veteran.
It all plays right into her game plan.
“This election is very different,” she said. “There is more dissatisfaction with career politicians and the establishment that a prior generation called ‘the man.’ That explains the surge of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.”
A graduate of Dartmouth College, Northwestern Law and Harvard Law, Long clerked for many years in the federal courts, including a stint with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and is now a litigation lawyer.
She outlined a long list of reasons why she is challenging Schumer in her address to more than 300 Republican committee members from across the state.
She is also a supporter of Donald J. Trump for president, and sounded a few Trump-like themes in her acceptance speech – like blaming the “ruling class.”
“I am here to speak for those who say the American dream is not working for them, because I know it isn’t,” she said. “I’m here to say it’s not your fault. Chuck Schumer is the face of the ruling class.”
Long told The Buffalo News in an interview that she expects to piggyback on the Trump campaign by appealing to the frustrations of those who believe government has failed them.
“That’s what inspires me,” she said. “Maybe my political instincts are better than I thought, because I seem to understand the nerve he is touching.”
The new candidate said she differs from Trump in that “I don’t have a billion dollars to spend on a campaign.” But she said she will run a “lean and simple” effort that will not even employ a press secretary but instead rely on social media.
It all adds up as a major challenge in the opinion of Jay Townsend, the 2010 Republican challenger to Schumer, who attended the Friday convention and who also has “been there, done that.”
“It’s very, very important that voters have a real choice,” Townsend said. “This is turning into a year of referendum on the status quo and a choice called change. Sometimes politics is about being in the right place at the right time.”