April 17, 2012

Gillibrand Holds Strong Lead Over Fractured GOP Field

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With just over six months until the November elections, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) finds herself in a strong position as she campaigns for her first full Senate term, campaign finance records and a recent poll show.

Gillibrand raised $1.5 million for her campaign in the first three months of this year, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission. Her campaign ended the quarter with $9.1 million cash on hand.

Additionally, Gillibrand holds a strong lead over the three candidates vying for the Republican nomination, a recent Quinnipiac University poll found. Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, Manhattan attorney Wendy Long and Rep. Bob Turner (R-N.Y. 9) will compete in the GOP primary on June 26.

The poll, which was released on April 5, gave Gillibrand 58 percent of the vote in a potential matchup with Long, who got 25 percent. The senator leads the other two potential opponents by similarly large margins, garnering 57 percent to Maragos’ 23 percent and 57 percent to 27 percent for Turner.

According to Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, the poll results show the GOP primary field is fractured, as none of the candidates are well known statewide.

“If a happy campaign is one with a lot of opponents, [an] even happier is one with a lot of anonymous opponents,” Carroll said in a press release. “Gillibrand’s three opponents, so far, fall short of even the generic GOP vote. But it’s seven long months until Election Day.”

Gillibrand was appointed to the seat by former Gov. David Patterson in 2009, after Hillary Clinton left the Senate to become Secretary of State. Gillibrand easily won a special election in 2010 to fill the last two years of Clinton’s term, defeating former GOP Rep. Joe DioGuardi with more than 60 percent of the vote, according to The New York Times.

The Gillibrand campaign has raised $11.8 million so far, according to the FEC. As of its most recent FEC filing, the campaign had only spent $3.1 million of its funds, due in part to the lack of a serious primary challenge, according to Politico. The only Democrat opposing Gillibrand for the nomination is Dr. Scott Noren, an oral surgeon from Ithaca described by Politico as a “long shot.”

The Quinnipiac poll also found that Gillibrand had a favorable/unfavorable rating of 60 to 21 percent among 1,597 registered New York State voters, her highest rating ever.

Original Author: David Marten