Jay Townsend wins GOP Senate nomination in New York

By MICHAEL HILL, Associated Press Writer |Associated Press

NEW YORK –NEW YORK (AP) Communications consultant Jay Townsend won the Republican primary Tuesday in an underdog bid to unseat two-term Sen. Charles Schumer.

Townsend, of Cornwall-on-Hudson in Orange County, defeated former CIA officer Gary Berntsen. He faces a tough campaign against Schumer, a Democrat who has polled far ahead of Townsend and recently reported $23.2 million in campaign funds, compared with less than $11,000 for Townsend.

Three Republicans are facing off in another primary for the seat held by Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand in a race that was too close to call late Tuesday.

With 66 percent of the precincts reporting, Joe DioGuardi, a former congressman from Westchester County, led with 42 percent of the vote. David Malpass, a former Bear Stearns chief economist, followed with 39 percent of the vote, and Long Island lawmaker Bruce Blakeman had 20 percent.

Gillibrand handily beat back her own primary challenge from Gail Goode, a New York City lawyer with little party support or name recognition.

Gillibrand had been considered vulnerable as a rural upstate congresswoman appointed last year to fill the unexpired term of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who became secretary of state. But she has lined up Democratic support and has benefited from the Republicans’ inability to lure a big-name challenger.

The lack of a Republican candidate with the stature of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to run for Senate opened the door to the lesser-known candidates.

The Gillibrand seat will be contested again in 2012 for a full, six-year term.

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