After just three years in the U.S. Senate, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand has distinguished herself as a hard-working advocate for New Yorkers, particularly those whose concerns are often paid too little attention.

Because Gillibrand doesn’t mind rattling cages for myriad groups such as the middle class, women, people of color, veterans and farmers, she is the Democrat and Chronicle’s choice for election to her first full six-year term.

Gillibrand, elected to serve the balance of Hillary Clinton’s second Senate term after having been appointed by former Gov. David Paterson to the job in 2009 when Clinton was named secretary of state, is being challenged by Republican Wendy Long.

Long, of Manhattan, like Gillibrand is a lawyer and graduate of Dartmouth College. She has impressive career credentials, having served as law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and a federal appeals court judge. A strong proponent of judicial restraint, Long played key roles in helping win U.S. Senate confirmation of Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts.