Sitting Senators Have Little Trouble Getting Back To Washington

NEW YORK (CBS New York/ AP) — On a night when Republicans were victorious all over the country, the status quo was maintained in New York State — at least in the races for U.S. Senate seats.

Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer eased to a third term with a decisive win over a little-known Republican challenger and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand made good on her appointment to Hillary Clinton’s vacated seat by winning the office outright on Tuesday night.

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Sen. Schumer victory speech

Sen. Gillibrand victory speech

Handed the Senate office nearly two years ago, Gillibrand cruised to an easy win over former Congressman Joe Dioguardi, reports CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey.

“I haven’t been in Washington very long, but I can tell you it’s broken,” Gillibrand said during her victory speech.

The junior senator from Hudson, N.Y., spoke to supporters about job creation and civil rights.

“That means full marriage equality,” Gillibrand said.

It’s a seat that seemed destined for Caroline Kennedy, but it became Gillibrand’s when Kennedy withdrew from Gov. David Paterson’s consideration.

She took the oath to fill Clinton’s seat early last year and because of her conservative credentials and short track record, she was seen as vulnerable to an election challenge, so much so the White House cleared the field of candidates. Still names like former Gov. George Pataki, Steve Israel, Carolyn Maloney and Harold Ford considered challenging her but didn’t have the stomach for the fight.

“It’s a great honor to be here today,” Gillibrand said.

With the field cleared, Gillibrand had unobstructed fundraising while meeting voters statewide, all of which set the table for Tuesday morning when she cast a vote for own Senate seat, and for Tuesday tonight when she took the podium as the youngest elected senator in the country.

“We have a lot of work to do and it won’t be easy,” Gillibrand said.

The Associated Press called the race for Schumer based on interviews with voters as they left the polls statewide Tuesday. Schumer defeated Jay Townsend, a political consultant making his first run for public office.

Schumer is the No. 3 Senate Democrat. He was overwhelmingly favored to win. He’s considered a possible successor to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid if the Nevada senator loses his re-election bid.

Schumer was sitting on a political bank account that swelled to $23.2 million by August and had been able to give out millions from his campaign fund to help fellow Democrats in tighter races.