STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A lawyer from the Upper East Side and homeschooling mother of two, Wendy Long says she was inspired to run again for the U.S. Senate by Donald Trump’s “outsider status.”
The Republican Long ran against Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012, taking 26 percent of the vote in the statewide race. This time around, she’s taking on New York’s senior senator, Charles Schumer, an even more entrenched incumbent.
In an interview with the Advance, Long said she didn’t plan to run for office after her 2012 defeat.
“What prompted me to do it this time was that I was an early supporter of Donald Trump and I felt like he was very different from other people who had been running. … I really liked the whole non-politician model because I feel like we have a very failed, entrenched political system in Washington,” she said.
To her, that includes her opponent, a three-term senator who served 18 years in the House of Representatives before his 18 years in the Senate.
Her anti-establishment mentality mirrors Trump’s, where politicians on both sides are equally at risk for finding themselves the subject of criticism.
“It’s Republicans and Democrats who are there to basically perpetuate themselves, keep themselves in power, rake in as much money as they can to their campaign coffers,” Long said.
She was also inspired by Sen. Bernie Sanders’ ability to create a following for his anti-status-quo mentality.
A RACE UNLIKE ANY OTHER
This election cycle is unlike when she ran in 2012.
After her massive loss to Gillibrand, Long wasn’t going to run again. She had stopped working for the Judicial Crisis Network, pushing for the confirmations of right-leaning Supreme Court nominees.
The former litigation partner was homeschooling her two kids for the last three years and decided to run against Schumer because no one else would.
The outsider Long is hoping races like hers get the Trump vote.
“Definitely, I would hope so, because we are very close” on the issues, she said, while adding, “we’re not identical on everything.”
She credits her idea to freeze college tuition at 1996 rates and cease giving colleges subsidies as framing Trump’s college tuition plan.
“In general, we are very close,” she said. “We have certain core beliefs and certain principals and one of them is that the establishment hasn’t done anything right for a really long time.”
Both Trump and Long are calling for term limits for Congress.
Both want to build a wall along Mexico, ban Muslims from entering the country, both oppose trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, both want to end Obamacare and cut taxes and regulations.
Both firmly believe Hillary Clinton is corrupt and can’t be trusted, and both think the traditional news media is biased and pushing for a Clinton win.
NOT WORTH THROWING AWAY THE COUNTRY
Long, running on both Republican and Conservative party lines on Nov. 8, said Trump made her rethink her stance on trade.
“I’ve always considered myself a free-trader and followed right along with the Club for Growth mentality and what the mainstream of the Republican Party thinking was,” she said.
“One reason I went for Donald Trump early … and turned away from some of my old allies in the Republican Party was, I thought, ‘You know, I’ve been listening to Trump for years talk about this and I’m actually buying what he’s saying, I actually agree with it.’ I think we’re selling out our own country, we’re selling out our own workers” with trade deals.
Getting into the nitty-gritty details of trade, the economy and foreign affairs, Long was asked whether she wishes Trump would spend more time talking about those things than in fighting with anyone who criticizes him.
“Yes,” she said with a sigh, frustrated that he doesn’t.
As much as she hopes to get the Trump voters, she also fears his comments may hurt down-ballot races.
“I wish he would talk more about the issues, because the issues are so incredibly important,” she said. But “all the personal allegations, and the character allegations, I don’t mind talking about that because I think Hillary Clinton is a person of such terrible character … she’s lied, she’s cheated, she skirted the law.”
Conservative author, pundit and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza pleaded guilty in 2014 to violating campaign finance laws by getting straw donors to give $20,000 to Long’s campaign.
He was sentenced to five years of probation, including eight months in a community confinement center, must attend weekly therapeutic counseling sessions, perform community service and must pay a $30,000 fine.
“They came down on him really hard,” Long said. “When you look at what Hillary Clinton has done, when you look at the emails that have been destroyed, the records, the lies that have been told, the immunity, the irregularities in the way she has been treated by the FBI and the meeting between Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch on the plane, if that had happened to anybody else … it’s just incredible.”
She finds Trump’s comments about women “repulsive” and is skeptical of allegations from women who come forward three weeks before the election.
“It’s not worth throwing the country away over,” she said.