Updated 03/13/2012 08:31 PM
Turner Will Challenge Gillibrand For Senate Seat
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Republican congressman Bob Turner announced plans Tuesday to challenge Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who is running for re-election as New York's junior senator.
It comes just days before the state's Republican Party is set to hold its convention in Rochester, where Turner will be battling with other candidates for the party's nomination.
The announcement also comes as his district seat faces elimination, fueled by the battle between the state legislature and a federal judge over district lines.
In a statement, Turner said, "There is serious work to be done to get this economy back on track, and I will not walk away from that work now. I will run for the Senate, and I will run to win."
Turner, a freshman who inherited the congressional seat vacated by Anthony Weiner, is considered to be a rising star who may draw a lot of support from the national Republican Party.
“He gets into the race ahead of the other candidates. It’s a name that most people know. He’s got the grassroots support that he used in the last two congressional races,” said Brooklyn Republican Party Chairman Craig Eaton.
Eaton is backing Turner over the three other declared Republican candidates — Joe Carvin, the town supervisor in Rye in Westchester County; Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos on Long Island and Manhattan attorney Wendy Long.
The head of the state Republican Party, Edward Cox, points out Turner won in a district that’s three-to-one Democratic, but he’s not picking favorites.
“We’ve got three other very good candidates also, all of whom are well qualified to beat Kirsten Gillibrand,” said Cox.
Because of slow population growth, New York is losing two Congressional seats this year. Last week, the federal judge in charge of redrawing the lines proposed carving up Turner’s district, placing his home in the majority-black district of Democrat Greg Meeks.
The head of the state’s Conservative Party, Michael Long, said Turner may be too late to the Senate race; his favored candidate, Wendy Long, of no relation, has already been working hard to win support.
“A lot of people have made commitments already and you don’t turn people’s heads around that fast, or that easy,” said Michael Long.
NY1 reached out to Gillibrand's office for comment.