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Editorial: Kirsten Gillibrand for Senate

Today, the News editorial page offers endorsements in the U.S. Senate and state comptroller races. Whether you agree or disagree with our conclusions, we urge you to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Two highly intelligent and capable women are running to represent New York in the United States Senate and, while both offer qualities that could serve voters well, the incumbent, Kirsten Gillibrand, is so well informed, so well connected and so willing to work productively across the aisle that she has earned a second full term.

Gillibrand, a Democrat from the Albany area, was appointed to the Senate in 2009 when her predecessor, Hillary Clinton, became Secretary of State. Then-Gov. David Paterson took a lot of heat for naming a relative unknown to the position, but the decade since has shown the decision to have been wise.

No one who listens to Gillibrand will doubt her affiliation: She is a Democrat, through and through. Health care, she says, should be a guaranteed right, though at more affordable cost, through a Medicare-for-all program.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency — ICE — needs to be abolished, she said, not because it’s work isn’t important, but because its ability to function has been damaged by an over-emphasis on deportation. It should be broken up and its functions — anti-terror work and immigration enforcement — assigned to other agencies. The country, she said, needs strong borders.

Social Security and Medicare need to be preserved, she said, not turned into backfill to account for budget deficits produced by last year’s tax cut. She would repeal the tax cut, except for aspects that benefited the middle class.

And, yet, to account for her lack of seniority and minority-member status, she has worked with Republican senators to pass measures in which she takes some pride. With Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., she sponsored legislation to improve child care for members of the military. With Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Miss., she sponsored a bill to increase flexibility for military families as their assignments change.

Those measures, and others, were signed into law by President Trump, whom she is willing both to praise (for trying to engage with North Korea and for bolstering dairy farmers, including those in Western New York) and to criticize (for taking children from parents at the border and for backing out of the nuclear deal with Iran, among others). She takes a view that combines passion with practicality — a valuable quality in a senator.

Gillibrand’s Republican opponent is Chele Farley, a political newcomer who has worked in the financial services industry for the past 25 years. She has served as the finance chair for the New York City Republican Party.

Farley is the kind of candidate anyone would want to see in government: bright, gregarious and as committed as Gillibrand is to a set of political beliefs. But she also understands that Washington has become utterly dysfunctional and that New Yorkers get the short end of the federal stick, sending more money to Washington than they ever get back.

For example, she said, last year’s tax cut hurt New Yorkers with its limits on state and local tax deductions. Had she been in office, she believes that as a Republican she could have usefully argued against it. That may be wishful thinking, but she is on target regarding the tax cut’s defects.

We hope Farley will look for other ways to serve the public, but in this race, Gillibrand is the right choice.

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