Private equity executive Chele Chiavacci Farley became the first Republican to challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s reelection this November, announcing Thursday that she would run to unseat the progressive Democrat she accused of forgetting her moderate upstate roots.
In a campaign video, Farley accused Gillibrand of being a political opportunist more focused on advancing her career than serving the needs of New Yorkers.
“We need to stop the grandstanding and work with both sides of the aisle to create jobs not soundbites,” Farley said. “Kirsten Gillibrand had nine years and failed.”
“While Kirsten Gillibrand is out trying to raise her national profile to advance her political ambitions, only a portion of every dollar hard-working New York taxpayers send to Washington ever comes back to our state,” Farley said. “I’ve spent my career in the private sector — paying taxes, not living off your taxes. Helping companies create jobs — not figuring out ways to sue them. I will bring our tax dollars back home and rebuild New York.”
Farley also faulted Gillibrand for supporting the Iran nuclear deal and for appearing with Linda Sarsour, an anti-Israel Palestinian activist. Farley has the support of both former Republican Gov. George Pataki and Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf.
“I think she’s a terrific person,” Sheinkopf said. “She’s very smart and cares deeply about the state.”
Gillibrand was a little-known congresswoman in 2009 when she was named to replace Hillary Clinton, who left the Senate to become secretary of state. While she once had conservative views on a range of issues she’s currently scored as the 11th most liberal senator, just after Bernie Sanders, according to Progressive Punch. She has also emerged as one of President Donald Trump’s most strident critics.
“Gillibrand has abandoned her moderate roots, and has moved as far left as possible to advance her own national political ambitions,” Farley charged. “People are fed up with the grandstanding, and the political opportunism.”
Gillibrand spokesman Glen Caplin said the senator “always encourages women to run for office, even when she doesn’t agree with their pro-Trump or anti-choice views.”
Farley, the state Republican Party’s New York City finance chair, has little name recognition and faces an uphill battle against a Democrat who won with 72 percent of the vote in her last election, in 2012.