As a little known Congresswoman from upstate New York, Governor David Paterson appointed her to fill the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton when thge former First But Not Only Lady was taken out of the picture after President Obama made her Secretary of State. Gillibrand was not Governor Paterson’s first choice. For that matter, Paterson wasn’t even the first choice of New Yorker’s for Governor. He only came into the position when as Lieutenant Governor, he assumed the office because of a sex and money scandal that forced Governor Eliot Spitzer out of office. Since that time Paterson has not exactly been seen as a great Governor. His approval numbers have been in the dumps.
So few were encouraged when he was given the chance to appoint Hillary Clinton’s successor in the Senate. But people were actually mildly excited when word came down that David Paterson was using the appointment to rekindle Camelot.
His first choice for the job was Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of iconic President John F. Kennedy and a true, long time resident of New York.
As the decision was leaked, it initially met with an enthusiastic reaction. Many, including Caroline, even lobbied for her appointment to the seat. But under intense scrutiny, before anything was ever official, Caroline stumbled. She could not answer questions as to why she wanted the job. She also failed to demonstrate any true desire for the job. This did not bode with many Democrats who, before Caroline was mentioned, saw Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the son of former Governor Mario Cuomo, as a top choice for to fill the vacancy.
Then suddenly, Caroline withdrew herself from consideration.
The name game was back on. But could it really end up being Andrew Cuomo?
Had it been Attorney General Anna Cuomo, maybe.
Since the appointment was to replace Hillary Clinton, the rules of politics kind of made this a “woman’s” seat and if low-in-the-polls, acting Governor Paterson betrayed that misconception, he would have had a bunch of bitter, testosterone injected, females holding a grudge against him.
So after much consternation , Paterson made his big announcement and appointed Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to the US Senate.
The question then became who is Kirsten Gillibrand?
Gillibrand was practically unknown.
If Paterson’s qualifications were that the seat go to a woman, who is liberal and in Congress, there is a whole host of more accomplished and well recognized candidates, such as Nydia Velasquez, Nita Lowey, Carolyn Maloney, Carolyn McCarthy, Louise Slaughter, or former Congresswoman and Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro, to name just a few. In fact, till this day the question is still who is Kirsten Gillibrand. She has been in office for just about one year now and all that she has really done is be overshadowed by the domineering, senior senator and media whore, Schmuck Schumer.
And there in lies her problem. She was unknown and largely remains unknown. She has failed to hang her hat on any single issue or make a name for herself as anything special. Without any claim to fame to latch on to, a mountain full of hungry opportunists are just dying to push her out of the way and be king of the hill.
There was talk about several Democrat challenges to Gillibrand. For a while some lesser known names than hers toyed with the idea. Then former New York City Comptroller and the recent Democrat candidate for Mayor New York City, Bill Thompson thought about it. Having come closer to defeating Mike Bloomberg than originally expected, Thompson sees a bright future for himself. But he decided that he will forgo a run for the Senate and probably take another shot at Mayor in four years.
Then there was Eliot Spitzer. Even disgraced Governor Spitzer considered making a comeback by challenging Gillibrand for the nomination. Just about the only person who had not considered was Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Andrew is instead gunning for David Paterson’s job. Cuomo is anticipating defeating Paterson for the Democrat nomination and sailing into the Governor’s mansion.
In retrospect, David Paterson would have been much smarter to have appointed Cuomo to the Senate seat instead of Gillibrand. She was no threat to him. And had he been the Senator instead of her, few would be threatening to challenge him. Unlike Gillibrand, his name ID is high and his favorability rating are sky high.
Without that behind her, any Democrat with a green card and a dream has been looking at the chance of taking Kirsten Gillibrand’s seat away from her.
In fact more Democrats are eyeing her seat than Republicans.
Rudy declined to run and so did several others. Currently, the only Republican name of recognition considering it is former Governor George Pataki and that is unlikely.
Now the latest Democrat to contemplate shoving Gillibrand out of the picture is the cocky and arrogant, Harold Ford, Jr.
Harold Ford, Jr. is a feisty and ambitious fellow from Tennessee. He inherited a seat in congressional that was held by his father for 12 terms. In 2002 he was so sure of himself that he ran for House Democrat Leader against then Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi. Nancy beat him.
After one more term in Congress, Harold announced that he was going to seek the open U.S. Senate Seat from Tennessee. He received the Democrat nomination and proceeded to lose to Republican Bob Corker. Not long after that, he fled his beloved Tennessee, moved to New York City and took up employment as a political insider for the brokerage firm Merrill Lynch.
Now like another southern carpetbagger, Ford is threatening a challenge to Kirsten Gillibrand.
His overtures have not been met positively. After several previous possible challenges to her nomination were averted, the White House stepped in and declared that they are behind Gillibrand and no one else. This ticked off Ford. Apparently he is unaware of President Obama’s Czar-like propensity to tell who is or isn’t running for what. During the summer, the White House clearly indicated that they expect David Paterson to not seek reelection to Governor of New York because of his sagging poll numbers. They are insisting upon the nomination of Andrew Cuomo for Governor.
In the end, Ford will probably not run. He most likely won’t be able to.
You see, for all the disrespect that Senator Gillibrand is getting from fellow New York Democrats and even out of town Democrats, she has raised a campaign war chest of $7.5 million. In just nine months. In just that small amount of time, in office as a US Senator, she has raised the third largest amount of campaign money of anyone in the Senate. Only Majority Leader Harry Reid, and New York’s senior Senator Chuck Schumer has raised more. Harold Ford would have a lot of catching up to do to be competitive with Gillibrand in a primary. Even though she may not be a household name in New York yet, she is a good politician. Supporters claim she is a future President. Allies describe her as an incessant campaigner who never misses a hand to shake or baby to kiss. If true, combined with her money, pleasant demeanor, the power of incumbency and Harold Ford’s Tennessee history and voting record, he would have a better chance at catching a fully prepared catfish dinner for two, right out of New York City’s Central Park Lake than he would at winning a New York US Senate seat. At least under these current conditions.