By Alissa Fleck Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand may rank favorably in polls, but Republican hopefuls are duking it out for her seat, with the June 26 primary fast approaching. The three Republicans vying for her postition, who participated in a primary debate last week, have elucidated their plans to decrease government control and spending. In the televised debate, they "fought to stress their differences," the New York Times reported, though they demonstrated mainly similarities between them. Rep. Bob Turner, the best-known candidate, who last year won Anthony Weiner's congressional seat with Tea Party support, has presented himself as a more moderate vote than the others. Turner, a generally adamant critic of the Obama administration, has taken criticism for not ruling out tax increases, unlike his opponents, who signed Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge. Norquist issued a press release slamming Turner, calling him "reminiscent of Barack Obama," while Turner has maintained he will make compromises if necessary. Wendy Long is a Manhattan lawyer and political newcomer whose campaign has suffered some financial setbacks. She currently holds $193,000 in debt, City & State recently reported, though a campaign spokesperson said she will have sufficient funds to compete in the primary due to prominent backers. Long has an extensive history of involvement in conservative activism and politics as a lobbyist for conservative judges; she pushes for an end to what she sees as "limited self-government" and "elite liberal" destruction of the Constitution and individual rights and enterprise. According to Norquist's release, Long is the only candidate of the three who has committed to not raising taxes. Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos accuses his opponents of being indecisive on the tax issue and focuses heavily on his own history of business experience in finance. Prior to his political career, Maragos was a vice president at Chase Manhattan Bank and Citibank before founding SDS Financial Technologies, of which he was president for over 20 years. Maragos says that what's lacking in Congress is solid economic theory above all else. He believes the government's top priority is restoring economic growth and creating private sector jobs. Maragos says our economy requires a "fundamental restructuring," including a restoration to free market principles. Despite the contentious issues on the table, experts anticipate a low turnout at the primaries; a recent Siena College poll shows 70 percent of Republican voters do not prefer any candidate.
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