By Paula Katinas
Bay Ridge — A woman who once served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is hoping to topple U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand from her Senate seat in the November election.
But first, Wendy Long would have to defeat two other candidates in the Republican primary on June 26 — U.S. Rep. Bob Turner and Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos.
Long has garnered endorsements from Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, New York State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long (no relation), and Brooklyn Conservative Party Chairman Jerry Kassar, all of whom joined her for lunch on Friday at the Bridgeview Diner, where she entertained a reporter’s questions about various issues.
Munching on a turkey club sandwich, Long blasted the Affordable Health Care Act, saying, “I’m confident it’ll be overturned by the Supreme Court.”
Long said the health care law passed by Congress and signed into law by the president two years ago is unconstitutional because it forces American citizens to buy a product — in this case health insurance — or risk paying a penalty.
It’s not just the individual mandate in the health care law that Long, a Manhattan lawyer, finds objectionable. “
There’s a lot wrong with Obamacare,” she said. “It’s unconstitutional and it would not fix any of our problems or make health insurance more affordable.”
The law contains hidden taxes and fees, according to Long. There is a 2.3-prcent excise tax on companies manufacturing medical equipment, a levy that will hurt New York State, she said. New York is No. 4 in the nation in making medical equipment.
Long said she would vote to overturn the health care law if the matter came before the Senate. Her ideas for curbing the escalating costs of health care in the U.S. include fostering more competition among insurance companies — something she believes would bring costs down.
“Let competition flow. And allow insurance to be sold across state lines,” she said.
Long has endorsed Mitt Romney for president.
“He has executive experience,” she said, adding that she believes the former Massachusetts governor will restore a “business-friendly climate” to government.
Long is aware that Bay Ridge is a community composed of hundreds of small, mom-and-pop stores. If elected, she would work to help those businesses, she said.
“The business climate is terrible. It is so hostile to businesses that many business owners are leaving New York State. A lot of it is the tax structure. I would work to cut taxes, cut taxes of every kind,” she said.
Long vowed to fight to save the Fort Hamilton Army Base from closure if the military installation is targeted for shutdown in the future by a base realignment and closure commission (BRAC). A new round of base closures takes place once every five to seven years.
“The military is one of the legitimate funding expenses the federal government has,” she said, adding that she would fight cuts to the Defense Department’s budget, even base closures.
“And the history of this particular base makes even more reason to keep it open,” she said.
If she is elected to the Senate, Long would have an opportunity to vote to approve or deny confirmation of Supreme Court nominees. She has worked from the other side of the confirmation process. As founder of the Judicial Confirmation Network, a group that works to find potential justices, she assisted in the effort to get Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito confirmed.
As a senator, what would she look for in a nominee?
“I would like someone who is qualified, who is a brilliant legal mind. I would not be looking at a person’s politics. My question would be, ‘Does this person adhere to the Constitution?’ I would want someone who practices judicial restraint. I’m not in favor of activist judges to rewrite laws or make decisions that should be made in the legislative branch,” she said.
The attitude of her old boss, Justice Thomas, is her example, she said.
“Justice Thomas, his goal is ‘Just get the Constitution right.’” Long said.
Malliotakis said Long reminds her of Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican who won a Senate seat in a blue state.
“He won because he was genuine and spoke to people about the issues they care about. Wendy is the same,” Malliotkais said. “She speaks to my beliefs as well. I endorsed her because I need a partner in the Senate in Washington to work on a lot of these issues.”
Kassar pointed to Long’s stands on issues and said he believes her views are shared by a majority of New Yorkers.
Mike Long, who has been involved in politics for 48 years, said he’s excited by Wendy Long’s candidacy.
“This is the first time I’ve been this enthusiastic about a statewide candidate in a long time,” he said.