For years, Wendy Long has supported Donald Trump as the kind of national figure that could lead New York back to the Republican Promised Land.
She embraced his message, promoted his ideas and encouraged his 2014 interest in running for governor.
Now, as she seeks a U.S. Senate seat for the second time in four years – this time against veteran Democrat Charles E. Schumer – the prominent Manhattan lawyer is officially hitching her underdog wagon to Trump. She argues that while the GOP presidential nominee may not garner electoral votes from heavily Democratic New York, he will prove competitive enough to attract support for a like-minded candidate on the ballot.
“I know he’s going to make a play for New York,” she said Friday during a visit to The Buffalo News. “He won’t just treat it as a cash cow like Ted Cruz or John McCain. This will be the chance to make a really good run.”
Few political observers give Trump much of a chance in New York, but Long likes what she sees. She thinks working-class communities like some in Erie County are attracted to his “very inspiring ideas” and to a candidate that few – besides her – ever predicted would even gain the nomination. She thinks he is forging a historic revision of U.S. politics.
“If it were Hillary Clinton vs. Jeb Bush it would be dull and horrible,” she said. “This is exciting and kind of fun. It has great potential for breaking up the old political alliances that just have not gotten us anywhere.”
His ideas to spark the national economy and increase vigilance against terrorism are already reflected in his improving polls, Long said, and she flatly predicts he will be elected president.
“Whether his coattails are big enough to allow me to beat Schumer, I don’t know,” she said. “But it’s possible it could be done.”
A Dartmouth College graduate who once clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court, Long challenged Democratic Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand in 2012. She was soundly defeated as she mounted a campaign with little money and an organization she now labels as ineffective – except for pollster Kellyanne Conway who is now managing the national Trump campaign.
“She was the only one who moved the ball forward for me,” she said Friday.
Long has outlined a broad platform that includes school choice, securing the border, cutting taxes, opposing abortion and reducing the federal role in education. Her visit here throughout the weekend is aimed at shoring up her political contacts and criticizing Schumer.
Though she recognizes the difficulty of defeating a veteran incumbent who has never lost an election and who could be majority leader of the Senate in January, Long remains committed to making her case for the second time in four years.
“He’s a proponent of big, big, intrusive government who wants to expand every government program you can imagine,” she said of Schumer. “Yes, somewhere there’s a warm fuzzy heart that wants to help people. The problem is that it just doesn’t work. We’ve run out of money.”
On Saturday Long is slated to attend the Erie County Republican Roundtable in downtown Buffalo, the opening of the local party’s campaign headquarters on Sheridan Drive near Transit Road, and the annual SCOPE Banquet for gun rights advocates. She also has scheduled an appearance at the Amherst Republican Women’s Club event on Saturday.