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Chuck Schumer vs. Wendy Long: Schumer Campaigns by Not Campaigning; Long Struggles to Get Traction

Schumer photo: John Smith/WAER
Long photo: twitter @WendyLongNY

It looks like New York Senator Chuck Schumer will be re elected to a fourth term on November 8th, barring any major turn of events.  Schumer is nearly 40 points ahead of his nearest opponent in the polls.  The bigger question now is if will Schumer be the next Senate Minority Leader or Majority Leader.

Schumer is  running for reelection, but he’s not exactly campaigning. He’s mostly just continuing what he’s been doing for years- relentlessly traveling the state, focusing on local issues.

In Buffalo he wrangled a $17 million grant stalled for years, that will, among other things, help make the former Bethlehem Steel site more attractive to new buyers.  

After this decade- long bureaucratic tug of war,” Schumer said. “We were able to break through the red tape.”

In Schenectady, he escorted the federal railroad administrator to inspect train tracks that he believes should be eligible for federal funds to install the safety feature known as Positive Train Control.  

“There is  money is there, why shouldn’t it go to New York?” Schumer asked.

In New York City, he called for new rules that would force speeding trailer trucks to slow down .

Schumer has not held traditional rallies to promote his candidacy, ceremonially opened campaign offices, or any of the things candidates normally do.  That’s partly because Schumer is nearly 40 points ahead of his Republican opponent, and is consistently one of the most popular politicians in New York.  But the 65 year old three term Senator, who beat Al D’Amato to win the seat back in 1998, says he’d rather just keep to his normal schedule traveling the state, and let the politics work themselves out .

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
Schumer joined Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler, Mayor Stephanie Miner, and other officials in August to announce a push to ban compounds in synthetic drugs

“The best way to get reelected is to just do your job,” Schumer said. “I’m not overtly campaigning.”

The time that Schumer does not have to spend on a competitive re election race is used in helping other Democratic candidates get elected to the US Senate.  Schumer, who ran the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee from 2005 until 2009, is often advising other candidates in between his New York appearances.

“I’m on the phone talking to the candidates all the time,” he said.

If Democrats retake the Senate, Schumer will be the Majority Leader, he’s already been chosen as Democratic Leader .

Siena College polls spokesman Steve Greenberg says   that could be a boon for the state, and New Yorkers are aware of that.

“A lot of New Yorkers know what that means, potentially, in terms of his ability to help New York,” Greenberg said.

The most recent Siena poll has Schumer at 66 percent. Republican challenger, Wendy Long is at 27 percent.

Credit @WendyLongNY
Candidate Wendy Long and Assembly candidate Rev. Bill Banuchi in Newburgh earlier this month.

Schumer has around $25 million in his campaign account, he’s transferred some of it to help other Democrats across the country.  Long has less than half a million dollars.  While she has not gained much attention,  she’s been actively campaigning.  A 56-year-old attorney from New York City, who once clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Long holds a weekly town hall style meeting on Facebook Live.  She recently attended a Women for Trump rally.  Long, unlike some other GOP candidates in New York,  is solidly for the Republican Presidential candidate.  A staunch conservative, Long says she’s moved past Trump’s remarks about allegedly sexually assaulting women, and has accepted his  apology over the statements .  And she admits that she’s a long shot for the Senate.

“It’s a tough road for sure,” Long said. “But it’s a road that’s well worth traveling. Because I believe our country’s at stake.”

Long says she wants to shake up things up in Washington. And she says Schumer, and Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, are part of the problem.

They are both the face of the corrupt, failed establishment,” Long said. “That’s been running this country for a very long time.”

Schumer, the three term Democratic Senator, is on his way to what could potentially be an historic margin of victory on November 8th, but he’s not talking about that now.

“Let’s not guild the lily,” Schumer said, in answer to a reporter’s question. “I’m hoping to win”.

New York’s other U.S. Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, holds the record for the biggest landslide for a Senate win.  Her opponent, four years ago- Wendy Long.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at