If things were different, Wendy Long would be a household name. She'd be a heroine, and she'd be driving the election season.
But Long is the Republican running for Senate in New York, where calculations were made long ago to ensure that Republicans don't win Hillary Clinton's old spot, the old Daniel Patrick Moynihan seat. But such plans don't have to pan out.
Long is exactly the kind of woman the Senate needs. A former Supreme Court law clerk, she left private practice at an esteemed firm to build the Judicial Confirmation Network, a conservative advocacy group. This campaign is not the first time she and her family have made sacrifices in seeking to contribute to the preservation of our republic.
"I jumped into this race because I believe, in 2012, everything is on the line for America. Our free-market economy is on the line. Capitalism is on the line. The dignity of work and the dignity of human life are on the line. Our security; our energy independence; so much is at stake in this election ... My hope is that we can focus on the real issues, because there is such a strong contrast" in the electoral choices this year, she said in a recent interview on a Catholic television network.
It's hard to focus on real issues though, when the incumbent, Kirsten Gillibrand, has ignored debate requests thus far. When Gillibrand was on display in a march of female senators at the recent Democratic convention, we were reminded of the mainstream media's insistence that only liberal women truly represent the gender, and that women's freedom is dependent on the lessening of religious liberty.
"I think a lot of women, women of faith in particular, understand that this whole 'war' about the contraception/abortion/sterilization mandate is not about women's health," Long said in that same interview. "It's about a big, central government trying to conscript religious organizations into a political agenda, an agenda that violates their deeply held beliefs ... that are shared by women of faith."
The Democrats "seem to be focused on these issues of abortion, contraception, sterilization, thinking that's really what's on the minds of most women and I just think that that is incorrect. I think women really are concerned about the economy and jobs," Long said. (Her point is underscored by a recent Susan B. Anthony List poll that indicates that the HHS mandate could cause trouble for swing voters in battleground states.)
She has appeared in the Wall Street Journal twice, writing about financial reform, embracing a less punitive approach than current Empire State senators. "The Democrats are making a bad gamble, politically speaking," she observes.
"The people I see all around New York love our country and our state, and they're angry and worried that the America they love is slipping away," Long tells me. "The establishment in Washington, including Sen. Gillibrand, acts like nothing's wrong and we could go on like this forever. The people know that we can't."
Wendy Long gets it: The fear and the disappointment that hope and change curdled into. You don't have to be a Republican to vote for her. You don't have to be a conservative -- you just need to be a concerned citizen.
New York, your country needs you. The U.S. Senate needs responsible servants. We all need Wendy Long in the Senate.