Saturday, August 8, 2009

Without the Pedigree of a Kennedy, Clinton, or Cuomo, New York’s Senator Gillibrand Becomes Prohibitive Favorite

New York Gov. David Paterson, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

Every so often African-Americans and members of other minority groups remind one another that they are not all required to be on the same page all the time; there’s room for diversity. Just so, women are beginning to realize that although they may not agree on every political issue, they can stand united in their opposition to sexism and misogyny as well as all other forms of bigotry. Representing 51 percent of the nation’s population, women could thus assure a major upsurge in political power.

The saga of politically conservative Kirsten Gillibrand, who recently replaced liberal Hillary Clinton as the junior senator of New York, is a good illustration of the above. The AP’s Valerie Baumann reports:

ALBANY, N.Y. — Kirsten Gillibrand didn't have the pedigree of a Kennedy, Clinton or a Cuomo. She was not, her critics said, up to the challenge of winning a tough, New York brawl for the U.S. Senate seat Gov. David Paterson handed her.

But on Friday, the last of the established threats to her candidacy backed away from a promised Democratic primary showdown, leaving Gillibrand a smoother ride to a full, six-year term when she faces election next year. U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who just last month raised $300,000 at a dinner that featured former President Bill Clinton, said there was too much to do in Congress to spend the next year campaigning.

In less than seven months, Gillibrand went from vulnerable and criticized to a prohibitive favorite. A primary election fight is the biggest threat to Gillibrand in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1. No Republican has emerged as a general election opponent.

"The deal is done," said Doug Muzzio, a politics professor at Baruch College. "She's the Democratic primary candidate and she's not going to face any substantial opposition."

When the little-known, conservative-leaning U.S. representative was named to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as New York's junior senator in January, Democrats in the state fractured. Loyalists backed her, but others balked, despite vocal support from President Barack Obama and New York Sen. Charles Schumer, a political force in the chamber.

The early favorite for the Senate seat, political scion Caroline Kennedy, backed out at the last minute for reasons that have never become clear. Another possible senator, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, also was passed over (though he never publicly said he wanted the job).

Gillibrand's conservative views on guns and immigration drew sharp criticism from more liberal Democrats in the state. Besides Maloney, U.S. Reps. Steve Israel and Carolyn McCarthy considered primary challenges.

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  1. I love this woman. Really wish I could have an opportunity to vote for her!


  2. Hi SYD,

    It strikes me that Hillary Clinton is much more open-minded toward women and fellow Democrats (Republicans, too) representing different points of view on the issues than many of our associates in the blogosphere.

    Hillary has a knack for transcending the conflicts and finding common ground, something Obama talks about but so far has not developed the skills to make it work.