WASHINGTON — Republican leaders Thursday landed the candidate they wanted to challenge Democratic Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand this fall: a New York investment banker and GOP fundraiser, Chele Chiavacci Farley.
"Too many politicians are more concerned with headlines and hashtags than with making a difference for the families they're supposed to represent," Farley, 51, said in a video announcing her campaign. "And among the worst offenders is U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand."
Noting New York State currently sends $40 billion more in tax money to Washington than it receives in federal services, Farley vowed to try to bring back more of that money if she is elected to the Senate.
Farley said Gillibrand is increasingly out of touch with the state's voters.
“Gillibrand has abandoned her moderate roots and has moved as far left as possible to advance her own national political ambitions," Farley said. "People are fed up with the grandstanding and the political opportunism. It happens on both sides of the aisle. It’s hurting New York and needs to end now.”
New York has not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since Alfonse D'Amato in 1992, and has not elected any Republican to statewide office since George E. Pataki won a third term as governor in 2002.
Due to a focus on sexual harassment that preceded the #MeToo campaign, Gillibrand is increasingly a national political figure seen as a possible 2020 presidential candidate. She had a campaign war chest of $9.6 million as of Dec. 31. Farley's fundraising effort is just beginning.
Farley's willingness to take on Gillibrand came as good news to New York State Republican Chairman Ed Cox, who has been struggling to line up candidates to oppose statewide Democratic officials in November.
"Chele has the real-world experience to fix our problems and be a strong, effective voice for New York in Washington," Cox said.
Farley serves as partner and managing director of Mistral Capital International, a Manhattan private equity firm.
She has served as finance chair for the State Republican Committee. Farley and her husband, Richard Farley, have three sons.
Three other Republicans have filed to run against Gillibrand: Frank Spotorno of Queens, Pat Hahn of Suffolk County and David Webber of Oswego County.
The three are lesser players in state Republican politics than Farley, who has already won an endorsement from Pataki.
Glen Caplin, a spokesman for Gillibrand, did not sound overly concerned about Farley's entry into the race.
"Kirsten always encourages women to run for office, even when she doesn't agree with their pro-Trump or anti-choice views," Caplin said. "She is proud of her record in the U.S. Senate fighting for New York families as hard as she fights for her own and looks forward to the opportunity of earning the privilege to continue serving New Yorkers for another term."