Republicans Bernsten and Townsend face-off

By: Jessica Layton, WNYT

SCHENECTADY – Primary day in New York is just about three weeks away.

Monday night the two Republicans vying to unseat veteran U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., faced off in a debate hosted by YNN and NY1.

The men agreed on so much that at times, it seemed they ought to be running together. Both say that the state is at a crossroads and needs a change come November.

As a retired CIA officer, Republican Gary Bernsten has traveled the world. Now the Long Island native is travelling all over New York.

“I’ve been to Syracuse five times in six weeks, Buffalo three times in six weeks,” Bernsten said

Monday night he was in Schenectady, debating his opponent in the Republican Primary – Hudson Valley businessman Jay Townsend.

“I don’t need a map to find upstate New York,” Townsend said.

While they poked at each other’s statewide geography knowledge, they share similar views on hotly debated issues. Both believe that the proposed mosque should be moved away from Ground Zero. They’re in agreement when it comes to same sex marriage.

“I support civil unions, but believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” Townsend said

“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and on civil unions I have no problems,” Bernsten said.

Each applauds cracking down on illegal immigration. And they’re certainly on the same page when it comes to Schumer.

“He’s wrong on immigration, wrong on taxes, wrong on the financial bill” said Bernsten. “It’s a stunning series of votes he’s made that have bankrupted America.”

“If you could show me just one instance in his long career where he has proposed a spending cut, I might have something nice to say,” Townsend said

So, if they’re so similar, why take one over the other?

“I’ve committed my life to government and people of the United States of America. My opponent is a very nice man, but he’s done political consulting – doesn’t have the same level of experience,” Bernsten said.

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