The two-woman race for the U.S. Senate seat is a first for New York and only the seventh in the nation's history.
On Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, voters will determine if incumbent U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., should continue to represent them in Congress. Her challenger is Wendy Long, who won the state's Republican Senate primary in June. Additionally, the race between the two women is also unique because they both graduated from the same college, Dartmouth.
The 2012 election will be Sen. Gillibrand's second campaign for Senate, since her appointment to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2009. Sen. Gillibrand won in a special 2010 election to finish Clinton's term.
Long, a Manhattan attorney, beat U.S. Representative Bob Turner and George Maragos, Nassau County comptroller, in the state's GOP primary election.
The challenger in recent days has attacked Sen. Gillibrand's position on hydrofracking, the drilling method used to extract natural gas from shale formations. Long has called on Sen. Gillibrand to make clear her position on shale gas. Long discussed the potential of the Utica Shale and used it as an opportunity to knock her Democratic opponent during a news conference in Albany on Oct. 11. Much of the attention in New York has focused on the Marcellus Shale, but Long said a report from the U.S. Geological Survey indicates Utica may have 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
''The potential of the Utica Shale and the Marcellus Shale to revolutionize the economy of New York, to bring back jobs, to give us a strong economy, to get manufacturing going in this state again, is unprecedented,'' said Long.
During her time as a senator, Gillibrand has been noted for playing an important role to repeal the 17-year-old ban on gays serving openly in the military, which was effectively ended on Dec. 18, 2010. She also led the way in passing a 9/11 Health Care Bill.
Long has criticized Sen. Gillibrand for supporting President Barack Obama's stimulus spending, running up the national debt $5 trillion since 2009, failing to produce a federal budget and for being to liberal. According to an article on Long's website, wendylongfornewyork.com, about why she is running for Senate, she reports that Gillibrand was ranked by the National Journal as the most liberal Senator in America.
Sen. Gillibrand on her website, kirstengillibrand.com, states she is running a grassroots campaign to fix the economy and improve life for the middle class and working families across New York. As senator, she has spent time in every single one of New York's 62 counties, meeting with families and small businesses, listening to the challenges they are facing.
''That is why Kirsten's number one priority is to create good-paying jobs across New York,'' the website states. ''Her plan includes cutting taxes for the middle class and small businesses, investing in research and development and renewable energy and upgrading infrastructure around the state.''
Long counts among her supporters the National Organization for Marriage, the Conservative Party of New York, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms and the Susan B. Anthony list. Gillibrand's endorsements have come from Emily's List, Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the Human Rights Campaign.
The two candidates will have a debate at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs on Wednesday, Oct. 17.