By Michael Hill
ALBANY — Three little-known Republicans hoping to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in November will face off Tuesday in what is expected to be a low-turnout primary election.
Attorney Wendy Long, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos and U.S. Rep. Bob Turner each have been trying to energize Republican voters in a state where primary turnouts can be notoriously low.
Fewer than 7 percent of Republicans voted in April's presidential primary, and this year's congressional primary date has moved up from its traditional slot in September, raising additional concerns that voters will stay home.
Polls show the three-year incumbent Gillibrand holding double-digit leads over her potential challengers as she seeks a full six-year term. She was appointed by Gov. David Paterson to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2009 and was viewed as vulnerable in her first contest in 2010 when she ran to finish Clinton's term. Gillibrand, though, easily dispatched Republican Joseph DioGuardi and pivoted toward this year's run for a full term.
Long is a New York City attorney who worked in the U.S. Senate, clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and has done political advocacy for conservative judges. She has never held elected office.
Maragos built a successful financial technology business before his upset win for county comptroller in 2009.
Turner, a former television executive, won his seat in Queens and Brooklyn last year in a special election to replace Democrat Anthony Weiner, who was bought down in a scandal involving lewd text messages. Turner's district is being eliminated next year under redistricting.
New York Republicans have criticized Gillibrand, a former upstate congresswoman, for moving to the left on some issues as a senator and call her vulnerable again. But in two election cycles, they have failed to come up with a big-name candidate to challenge her.
Gillibrand had $9.1 million in campaign cash on hand by her last mandatory filing in April.
Long this month reported $112,397 on hand to Turner's $108,337. Maragos, whose campaign has relied heavily on his own money, reported $256,472.
Also on Tuesday, the second of three primaries this year in New York, there are contests in several congressional districts.