GOP backs ex-LI lawmaker Blakeman for U.S. Senate race

(AP) - New York Republicans on Thursday picked a formerLong Island lawmaker and an economist to run in a primary for thechance to take on Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Republicans wrapped up a sometimes fractious party convention bygiving Bruce Blakeman, a former member of the Nassau CountyLegislature, the party's official designation after two rounds ofballoting, but former Bear Stearns chief economist David Malpassearned enough support to force a two-way Sept. 14 primary. Gillibrand was appointed last year to replace Hillary RodhamClinton after Clinton was named U.S. secretary of state. The little-known former congresswoman from upstate New York isseen by Republicans as vulnerable , but party leaders failed tolure top-name Republicans like former New York City Mayor RudyGiuliani into the race. That opened the door for lesser-knowncandidates to run for the special two-year term that ends in 2012,when Clinton's term would have ended. A third Republican candidate, former congressman Joe DioGuardi,did not earn a primary spot in convention voting but said he wouldtry to petition his way onto the ballot - a difficult andtime-consuming process that, if successful, could set up athree-way primary. "I'm in this till the end," DioGuardi said. "I can win theRepublican primary. What you saw here was the inside game. I'm nota politician." DioGuardi last week accepted the Conservative Party line, whichis valuable for Republicans running statewide. This is the second statewide run for Blakeman, who ranunsuccessfully for state comptroller in 1998. Blakeman told thecheering crowd he would fight against high taxes and regulationsthat are hurting farmers and small businesses. "People want change," he said, "not the kind of change thatwas promised in the last election. But they want affordability,responsibility, accountability - the principles of the Republicanparty."

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