NEW YORK STATE — In the state's U.S. Senate race, private investment fund executive Chele Farley is the Republican challenger to incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Capital Region native who is talked about as a potential presidential candidate.
Heading into the election, Farley, 51, trails far behind Gillibrand in both name-recognition and pre-election polls. A Siena College poll in late-September showed Gillibrand with a 61 percent to 29 percent lead, and a Quinnipiac poll in mid-October gave the incumbent a 58 percent to 33 percent advantage.
Farley said a prime goal of hers, if elected, is to reverse a long-standing situation in which the federal government collects billions more in taxes from New York state residents than the federal government spends in the state.
"By addressing the unfair treatment of New York taxpayers, Chele intends to invest in the state’s crumbling roads and bridges and to fix the nation’s largest mass transportation system," her website states. "Chele recognizes that these infrastructure improvements will create jobs, promote the state’s long-term economic health and ease the crushing burden placed on property taxpayers."
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Gillibrand, who is also 51, has taken on a number of national progressive issues, including cracking down on sexual assault in the military and on college campuses, speaking out for gay, lesbian and transgender rights, and promoting a stronger role for women in public life. She said she supports a "Medicare for All" health care system and has been working on legislation to support dairy farmers.
As the Albany native and Brunswick resident seeks her second six-year term, she has deflected questions about presidential ambitions, though she said during an Oct. 25 debate that she would serve a full six years. She continues to tour New York state regularly but recently made a visit to New Hampshire, the location of the first 2020 presidential primary.
Gillibrand also has far more campaign money than Farley: She has raised more than $20 million, compared to Farley's $1.2 million.