Mills: N.Y. Needs GOP Senator

Assemblyman Howard Mills (search), who is challenging Sen. Charles Schumer's (search) re-election, said Thursday that New Yorkers have suffered because both their senators are Democrats.

The 39-year-old Republican from Wallkill, accepting the support of several Westchester County GOP leaders, said, "The people of New York will be well served to have a senator who can work within the majority to get things done for them."

Schumer and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (search) are among 48 Democrats in the 100-member Senate. Asked if he felt it has been a problem for New Yorkers to have both senators in the minority, Mills said, "I believe it has ... in terms of what is being delivered to our state."

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"New York state has had a history in the past of having members of both parties serve in the United States Senate," he added. "The people of New York will understand that it's good for New York to have balance in the United States Senate, to have at least one member of the majority in the United States Senate because it's so important in getting things to our state."

He said New Yorkers were getting back 86 cents of every dollar they sent to Washington, D.C., in taxes and added, "I believe I can do more." He did not offer specific plans.

Phil Singer, a spokesman for Schumer, said Thursday: "From securing millions of dollars in Medicaid relief to help keep property taxes from going up further to delivering $20 billion in 9/11 aid to bringing JetBlue to New York, New Yorkers know Chuck Schumer has a long and deep record of accomplishment for them."

Mills emphasized that he was not making a formal announcement of his candidacy for the Republican nomination, but he appears to have the backing of the mainstream GOP. He predicted he would not have to battle through a Republican primary, though there are other announced candidates.

Mills, who is the Assembly's deputy minority leader, is also the chief fund-raiser for Assembly Republicans. He said Schumer's $20 million in available campaign funds would not decide the campaign.

"We will have the resources we need to wage a very effective campaign and a campaign that can win," Mills said.

He said he would meet Monday with Sen. George Allen, of Virginia, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, about financial support.