Turner challenges Gillibrand for Senate seat in big money race

U.S. Rep. Bob Turner plans to run against U.S. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand.
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U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Middle Village) announced he will run against U.S. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) this week, but now that the primary has been moved up and the election season extended, the funding gap between the two could become more paramount if they end up facing off.

“I ran for the House six months ago as a private citizen fed up with what is happening in Washington,” Turner said in a statement Tuesday. “I could not sit and watch career politicians sink my nation deeper into economic crisis.”

Late last year, a completely unknown Turner won a special election for the 9th Congressional seat that was left vacant after former Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned over a highly publicized sexting scandal.

After Turner took the helm for the remainder of Weiner’s term, he pledged to run for Congress in elections this November, but as part of the redistricting process that redraws political lines based on population change, his seat will likely be one of two eliminated in New York state.

Since Turner’s current district seems destined to be chopped into pieces and doled out to incumbents in the area, political insiders said he decided to throw his hat into the senatorial race.

Turner does not yet have a committee on file with the Federal Election Committee for the Senate race since he declared his intent, but Gillibrand already has $8 million in her campaign war chest, according to her latest filing with the FEC. And that might come in handy for what could be a costly run.

Since Turner only announced his intention to run this week and does not have any Senate campaign information on hand with the FEC, it is unclear how much money he has to for the race. Money may become more important this year because typically the Senate primary has been held in September and then the election in November, making for a short competition between the Democrats and Republicans.

But now that the primary has been moved up to June to comply with a federal law, that period of time has grown by three months.

Political consultants estimated that it may cost $2 million per week to keep up television advertising in a statewide race for federal office.

But in order to go head-to-head with Gillibrand, Turner must first edge out four other Republican candidates who have also expressed an interested in running.

Gillibrand had not previously singled out any of the other Republican candidates, but in response to Turner’s announcement her office put out a statement.

“We welcome Congressman Turner to the race,” said campaign spokesman Glen Caplin. “We look forward to contrasting Senator Gillibrand’s record of fighting for New York’s middle class with that of Congressman Turner’s record as a former Rush Limbaugh producer turned self-proclaimed ‘pandering’ Republican if he becomes the nominee.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 8:36 pm, March 15, 2012
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