New York's Conservative Party nominated a strong social and fiscal conservative, Wendy Long, as its Senate candidate on Monday -- handing Long's Republican Party bid a significant boost but also threatening to divide Republican voters.
The endorsement from the small but influential party was a coveted prize sought by all three Republican candidates, who will face off in a June 26 primary.
The winner of that race will run as the GOP candidate in November against U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Gillibrand was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated in 2009 by Hillary Clinton, who was named Obama's secretary of state. The following year Gillibrand won a special election to fill the remainder of the term with a commanding 63 percent of the vote.
The two other Republican candidates who failed to get Monday's nomination are Rep. Bob Turner, who last year won an upset victory to fill New York City's congressional seat left vacant when Anthony Weiner resigned in a sex scandal, and Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos.
Turner's upset win last September against a well-known Democrat in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3 to 1 garnered national headlines and was seen as a referendum on Obama's economic and foreign policies.
But the victory was short-lived: This month, the district became a casualty in the state's once-per-decade redrawing of district lines. It was only then that Turner decided to enter the Senate race.
Never heard of Wendy Long?
Long is a litigation attorney who lives with her family in New York City. She once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and describes herself as a committed conservative who would bring a clear contrast in a race against Gillibrand, whom she called a "rubber-stamp" for President Barack Obama.
"I've got some news for the senator: she has maxed out her credit with New Yorkers and her Washington spending spree is about to end," said Long, adding that she would vote to repeal Obama's health care package, support tax cuts and would push for an overhaul of the country's energy policy.