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NYS Republicans choose a U.S. Senate candidate

Chele Farley

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP)  Chele Chiavacci Farley, a private equity executive and Republican Party fundraiser, was chosen Friday by New York state GOP leaders to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in this fall's election. 

Farley's selection during a state party meeting at a Saratoga Springs hotel gives her the Republican and state Conservative Party lines for the race against Gillibrand, who's considered a potential candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. Farley, who pronounces her first name ``Shell,'' pledged to raise $10 million for her campaign, about what Gillibrand already has in her war chest. 

Farley, who earned an engineering degree from Stanford University, criticized what she called Gillibrand's ``extreme liberalism'' and said the senator hasn't done enough to get New York the funding it needs to repair its roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Farley said her background in engineering and Wall Street finances give her the experience to take on that problem. 

``It doesn't take an engineer to know that New York's infrastructure is crumbling. I will deliver the funding we need to fix it,'' Farley said. 

Farley has little public name recognition and would face a Democrat with broad appeal in New York state, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1. Gillibrand received 72 percent of the vote in her last election, in 2012, against Republican Wendy Long. 

Gillibrand, a former House member now in her second term in the Senate, has become ``a creature of Washington,'' Farley said, claiming the Hudson Valley native has ``abandoned her upstate roots.'' 

Farley, stepmother to her husband's three sons, didn't speak with reporters after her 13-minute acceptance speech. She was ushered to a side entrance by GOP operative David Catalfamo, departing for Manhattan amid a major snowstorm that continued into Friday afternoon. 

When asked why Farley didn't take questions from the media, Catalfamo said, ``Today is about why she's running.'' 

New York GOP state chairman Edward Cox and other Republican speakers spent as much time during their introductions blasting Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo as they did mentioning Farley. After Farley's speech, Cox said Farley's background in business and finance gives her an edge over Gillibrand when it comes to fighting for New York's share of federal funding. 

``New York now has two Democratic senators, and one of them certainly isn't doing her job,'' said Cox, referring to Gillibrand and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. 

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.