Wendy Long, a conservative attorney and former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, will announce this week whether she intends to challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, two sources close to her say.
Long has already met with New York State Republican chairman Ed Cox and Conservative Party chairman Mike Long (no relation), and is said to be working the phones calling county party chairs and potential donors in an effort to boost her bid.
Mike Long said that he believed that Wendy was getting very close to making an announcement.
“I believe she may announce this week,” Mike Long said. “She did very well in our interview up in Albany. I know she’s on the phone calling Republican chairmen. I know she’s on the phone calling conservative chairmen around the state. The window is very short. But I know she’s starting to move forward.”
Mike Long said that Wendy has told him she has no interest in running unless she can raise enough money to challenge Gillibrand. To that end, she has been calling friends and potential donors in the legal world who she thinks could help fund her campaign.
Gillibrand has had several potential opponents fall by the wayside, most notably internet businessman Marc Cenedella, who decided not to run after several news stories revealed his unsavory blogging history. So far, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos is the only declared candidate running against her.
Wendy Long is largely unknown in city and state politics. She’s a social conservative who was chief counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, a Republican-linked group that describes itself as “an organization of citizens joined together to support the confirmation of highly qualified individuals” to the U.S. courts.
While at the JCN, she sent several letters to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and wrote many articles opposing the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Her Wikipedia page lists her as a legal adviser to Mitt Romney’s campaign.
She has been slowly increasing her public appearances, speaking at a state Conservative Party dinner last month and scheduling another talk in Brooklyn in March.
She is also said to have hired a campaign manager: Dick Wadhams, a veteran Colorado GOP operative who ran Senate campaigns for John Thune and George Allen. Wadham’s has a reputation for being a “pitbull” of an operative in the vein of Karl Rove. His involvement in the race to unseat Gillibrand could make this campaign interesting.
Neither Wendy Long nor Wadham returned requests for comment.
Gillibrand herself is sitting on a huge pile of money – around $8.1 million – but is struggling to boost her name recognition. After scoring an above 50 percent approval rating for months, her ratings slipped recently to 47 percent.
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