Gotham Gazette

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Two Longtime Congressmembers Face Stiff Challenges

It's rare that voters get to choose both their senators in the same year. But because of Hillary Clinton's resignation, state voters will elect two senators in November. On the Democratic side, the two incumbents are seeking re-election: Charles Schumer for a full term and Kirsten Gillibrand to fill out the remainder of her (and thus Clinton's) two years in office.

Rightly or wrongly, Schumer, with his clout in the Capitol and his massive campaign war chest, is seen as virtually unbeatable. He has no primary opponent.

A number of prominent Democrats mulled challenging Gillibrand, a little known, relatively new upstate representative until Paterson appointed her to the Senate in 2009. All of them decided against it, leaving the task to Gail Goode, a onetime assistant district attorney in the Bronx who also worked for the transit authority.

On the Republican side, two candidates -- Gary Berntsen, a Long Island native who was with the CIA in Afghanistan, and Jay Townsend, a Hudson Valley resident who runs his own market research company -- seek the herculean challenge of taking on Schumer.

Three Republicans are competing to run against Gillibrand. They are: Bruce Blakeman, an attorney and former member of the Nassau County legislature running with the slogan "Less government ... more freedom"; Joseph DioGuardi, the Conservative Party candidate and former member of Congress who may be best known as the father of American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi; and David Malpass, an economist who served in the Reagan and first Bush administrations.

Racing Representatives

The city will also see several contests for House seats, all held by incumbents seeking re-election.

The two most high profile contests are taking place in Manhattan. In District 15, longtime U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, a legendary figure in Harlem, faces five challengers, who all hope to capitalize on allegations of ethical misconduct Rangel faces.

The most attention has focused on State Assemblymember Adam Clayton Powell IV, whose father Rangel beat to become a member of Congress in 1970.

Further downtown in District 14, Carolyn Maloney has a stiff challenge from a political newcomer, Reshma Saujani. While the two agree on many issues, Saujani has based her campaign on the need for change in Washington. The two candidates have repeatedly clashed over their records and relationship to Wall Street.

But Republicans can get in on the fun, too. They will choose between three contenders -- Roger Blank, Dino LaVerghetta and David Ryan Brumberg. The GOP race has attracted far less attention than the Democratic contest, perhaps because Democrats outnumber Republicans by a margin of three to one in the district.

The Republican primary in District 13, most of which lies in the more GOP-friendly Staten Island, has a higher profile. There two candidates -- Michael Grimm and Michael Allegretti -- are vying for the chance to run against incumbent first-term Democrat Michael McMahon in November.

The Democrats also will see congressional primaries in District 5 in Queens and District 10 in Brooklyn.

On the Republican side, voters will get to select their party's nominee for U.S. representative in District 5 in Queens.

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