ROCHESTER, NY: All three Republican candidates vying for the right to take on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand qualified for the GOP Primary ballot at the State Convention this afternoon, setting off fierce primary over a compressed schedule.
Wendy Long, a conservative judicial activist and attorney, nearly got the 50 percent of the vote required to be the official party nominee, finishing with 47.37 percent of the delegates. The vote-rich counties of Westchester and Suffolk Counties withheld the vote until their voting was over, eventually going with Congressman Bob Turner and Nassau County comptroller George Maragos, respectively.
The result means that the three candidates will battle it out among the Republican electorate for the next three and a half months. A federal judge ordered New York’s congressional primary to be held in late June instead of the customary September.
The winner of that fight will win the right to take on Sen. Gillibrand, who still hasn’t completed her first full term in office but who comes with a massive war chest and strong base of supporters in a deep blue Democratic state.
Each of the candidates addressed the convention before the vote asking for support. Mr. Maragos cited his immigrant roots and his record as comptroller; Ms. Long slammed Sen. Gillibrand as a liberal flip-flopper in lock-step with President Barack Obama. Mr. Turner said that his candidacy will attract national attention and Wall Street money.
Vote-whipping happened until the very last minute on the floor. A deal to allow all three candidates onto the ballot before the roll call vote fell through when the supporters of Ms. Long balked.