In an email pitch, Gillibrand noted Hochul faces "two deep-pocketed conservative self-funders" — state lawmaker Corwin and independent Jack Davis — who are "spending whatever it takes to win." She asked for supporters to donate to Hochul's campaign.

The three-way element of the race could be beneficial to Hochul. A rift among conservatives helped Democrats win the special election in New York’s 23rd district in November 2009.

The 26th district race remains close. In a recent poll by Siena College, Corwin led with support from 36 percent of likely voters, Hochul was backed by 31 percent and Davis, who is running on the Tea Party line, had the support of 23 percent of respondents. 

--Updated at 4:43 p.m.