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Farley brings Senate campaign against Gillibrand to Buffalo

Republican Chele Farley made her first visit to Buffalo on Thursday, but doesn’t think unfamiliarity with New York’s second largest city will hamper her efforts to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand.

During an interview with The Buffalo News, she said she would pose the same question here as around the state: What has Gillibrand done?

“She’s all talk and no results,” Farley said. “She’s sponsored something like 300 bills and not a single one has been passed into law.

“I’m not running for president,” she added, in a reference to national chatter about Gillibrand as a potential White House candidate in 2020. “I’m running for senator.”

A recent Politifact check in The News rated the new Senate candidate’s claim about Gillibrand's legislative record only “half true,” noting some of the senator's proposals were included in larger bills sponsored by other members. But that’s not stopping Farley from attacking her opponent as focused on “self-serving priorities” that may overlook the concerns of most New Yorkers.

She lists two priorities should she pull off a major upset this November in overwhelmingly Democratic New York. She seeks to stem the flow of $40 billion from New York to Washington that she says fails to fairly return to the state, echoing the perennial complaint of another New York senator – Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who labeled New York a "donor" state when it comes to federal tax payments.

And she supports a pro-Israel foreign policy that challenges “mistakes” such as the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by the Obama administration that was recently nullified by President Trump. Gillibrand voted for the Iranian agreement, she said, while noting the significance of the vote against the deal by Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, the state’s other Democratic senator. And after returning from a visit to Israel in just the past few days, she believes Trump is successfully recalibrating the U.S. relationship by recognizing Jerusalem as its capital.

“Trump said he was going to do it and Trump did it,” she said.

After GOP gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro acknowledged he did not vote for Trump in 2016, Farley said she did. She also said she will support him in Washington – when appropriate.

“I will support Trump when his polices are good for New York,” she said, “but on policies like the tax bill that hurt New York, I would negotiate for a better deal.”

A partner in the Mistral Capital equity firm, Farley is a Stanford-educated engineer who was officially nominated by the state GOP in March; she will attend next week’s party convention in Manhattan. She once served as the New York City fundraiser for the state Republican Party, and said her husband urged her to run for the seat when few others were volunteering.

Farley (who pronounces her first name as “shell”) acknowledged the tough odds against Gillibrand after the incumbent beat her last GOP challenger, Wendy Long, 72 percent to 26 percent in 2012.

She also appeared Thursday with Avi Israel, the local resident who has been outspoken about fighting addiction after losing a son to opioids.

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