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Editor's note: In a series of editorials, The Buffalo News is endorsing candidates for a number of offices. These endorsements by the editorial board are intended to aid voters in their evaluations of those seeking office. Whether you agree or disagree with our recommendations, we urge you to vote and take part in our electoral process. The Erie County Board of Elections (http://www.erieboe.com) has sample ballots and maps showing district boundaries.

Voters have a real choice in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democrat Kirsten E. Gillibrand and Republican Wendy Long. The values and beliefs of these two powerhouse women are starkly different, and made it an easy decision to support Gillibrand.

She was hardly known here in Western New York when she was appointed by then-Gov. David A. Paterson in 2009 to fill Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. But she has made her mark since then, proving herself to be a strong legislator with a deep concern for the state's citizens.

The only woman who holds statewide elected office in New York, she has been a strong advocate for women's and gay rights and equal pay for equal work, stands supported by this newspaper and many voters in this state.

Gillibrand has a list of accomplishments that bodes well for New York voters and that have earned her a shot at a full, six-year term. Among the issues she has fought for: middle-class tax relief, job creation, bipartisan solutions in Congress, tax relief for small businesses and U.S. manufacturers that create jobs here, and infrastructure investments.

With an understanding that building confidence in legislative action requires transparency, she co-authored the bipartisan STOCK Act, preventing members of Congress from engaging in insider trading. She also continued her work on the 9/11 health bill to benefit first responders.

Moreover, she has been a strong advocate for the Families of Continental Flight 3407, working to make sure the Federal Aviation Administration improves regulations on pilot training, and trying to make airline ticketing more transparent so that passengers know what airline they are actually flying on.

And as a member of the Armed Services Committee, she was among the delegation that fought vigorously to ensure the Niagara Air Base did not close.

It is on these and other issues important to Western New York, the state and country that Gillibrand has proven herself quickly. But it is with that spirited determination and invitation to women to participate in politics that she has drawn strong opposition in Long.

Their similarities are striking. Both the incumbent and Long have practiced law, public and private. They were both Ivy-league educated at Dartmouth before heading to law school, and both have clerked in the Second District Court of Appeals.

But there is a wide range of issues upon which Long and Gillibrand disagree. Long would balance the budget by slashing spending; Gillibrand would cut spending and raise some taxes. Long is strongly pro-life; Gillibrand pro-choice. Gillibrand voted for the Affordable Care Act; Long would vote to repeal it. Long is a strong supporter of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for natural gas; Gillibrand says there first must be proof that agriculture and tourism will be protected.

It goes without saying that the conservative Long does not favor Gillibrand's more liberal views on gay rights.

The voters are fortunate to have such a clear choice in this race. We believe Gillibrand is the right one.

Sunday: The presidency.