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Meet N.Y.’s New Senator

Posted on Jan 23, 2009
United States Congress

Caroline Kennedy she ain’t. On Friday, New York Gov. David Paterson tapped Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to take over the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

So who exactly is this Gillibrand character? As it happens, Ms. Kennedy isn’t the only one with big political connections to her name. Regarding issues, Gillibrand just changed her tune when it comes to her stance on gay marriage—a shift that might dampen some of the criticism coming from within the Democratic Party.


Paterson chose Gillibrand, 42, a Hudson Democrat whose sprawling mostly Republican district is near Albany, bypassing better-known Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. The twice-elected congresswoman voted against the assault weapons ban and the $700 billion financial bailout bill—positions at odds with Paterson’s.

Gillibrand was an upset winner in the 2006 congressional elections when she defeated four-term incumbent Republican U.S. Representative John Sweeney, 54. Her appointment takes effect Jan. 25, Paterson said.

“I believe I have found the best candidate to become the next senator from the state of New York,” Paterson said. “She is dynamic, she is articulate, she is perceptive, she is outspoken.”

Gillibrand said she will support women’s rights and same-sex marriages as well as programs that create jobs and bolster manufacturing, technology and health care.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, January 30, 2009 at 7:11 am Link to this comment

I doubt that Caroline Kennedy was ever considered seriously for the Senate appointment.  My guess is that Paterson was more or less ordered to appoint Gillibrand by the party leadership, including Obama: they would be interested in having someone occupy the seat who was experienced and successful in fighting difficult elections.  It would have been more to Paterson’s advantage to eliminate a possible competitor by appointing Cuomo, but at the moment the governorship of New York State is probably considered of much less importance than the Senate.

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By ProgCat, January 29, 2009 at 10:56 am Link to this comment

Thank you for the link, New Frontier! I always knew Caroline Kennedy was more like President Obama (refuses pay-to-play throughout his political career) and refuted dirty politics.

Hillibrand is the wrong choice for a progressive President’s agenda. I hope she’s smart enough to realize she’ll be watched closely. I assume she does and will play “center” until she can win re-election (god forbid).

I hope the rumors coming from the Kennedy camp are true, that she will run come 2010, and that those who have unfairly ripped Caroline apart for 7 weeks will see payback.

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By New Frontier, January 29, 2009 at 8:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Boy oh boy, and we thought Blago was bad!

What about Paterson’s obvious pay-to-play scheme in NY with Gillibrand and her “sugar daddy,” Alfonse D’Amato?

See this article about the Paterson-Gillibrand-D’Amato connection which reports that Al D’Amato gave Paterson a stunning $500k at a holiday party last year during the heat of the senate seat competition. (And details another half million or so raised by D’Amato for Paterson in the preceeding weeks!)

That’s well over a million dollars, certainly enough money to buy D’Amato prime placement in the front row of Paterson’s press conference announcing D’Amato’s longtime BFF Kirsten Gillibrand as his senate pick…and perhaps it bought um….other things as well. (cough)

This investigative report unravels the fascinating relationship between Gillibrand and D’Amato (it’s all in the family, baby!), how the two came to be so strangely close to Governor Paterson, and tells the REAL REASON why Caroline Kennedy didn’t get Hillary Clinton’s former senate seat…the cash she wouldn’t pony, Macaroni!


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By ProgCat, January 26, 2009 at 11:40 am Link to this comment

Ronald Orf,

First and foremost we need to understand what kind of government we have. The majority of Americans still believe we live in a straight democracy.

Here’s a shocker: We don’t.

We are a Constitutional Democratic Republic. Note that the first word here is “constitutional”, that is, we are a country of laws, the Constitution.

You say the people of Massachusetts didn’t vote for the same-sex marriage act there. That’s not true. They voted for the governor and the man who got the most votes (democracy) won. This is where the “republic” kicks in.

The governor appoints the state supreme court justices. Voters should’ve known this before casting their vote for him. Elections have consequences.

As a republic, we allow our elected official to represent us, and he did by choosing the judges for the state supreme court, in our name. That’s what happens in a republic.

Justices are tasked with interpretation of the law in accordance with the constitution, and they did. Every state Constitution protects the rights of all individuals. Equal rights for all, including same-sex marriage. That’s what same-sex marriage proponents are trying to argue. Equal rights under the Constitution.

If people get disgusted because they believe they have no say-so in the matter, then they’re misinformed about how our government works and should educate themselves. We have the Internet now. There’s no longer any excuse to be uninformed.

I don’t want people to “approve” same-sex marriage. I want the American people to ACCEPT the rule of law and our Constitution that protects the equal rights of ALL Americans from being trampled on out of biased, uninformed opinions.

I believe in the Constitution; the rule of law, rather than “mob rule”.

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By Anarcissie, January 26, 2009 at 10:08 am Link to this comment

Obviously Paterson had two dominant motivations: one was to keep the Senate seat for the Democratic Party (by naming someone like Gillibrand) and the other was to remove a possible competitor (Cuomo).  The issue was complicated by the circus around Caroline Kennedy, which was, I think, purely a media’n'celebrity event but which had to be carefully mishandled and fumbled away, as it was.  So Paterson put his party’s interests before his personal interests, I imagine at the instigation of Schumer and probably Obama.  His reward will be to have his competitors, if any, crushed in 2010.  Gillibrand can probably take care of herself. 

The idea that there is some sort of ideological contest going on in this is pretty silly.

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By Ronald Orf, January 26, 2009 at 3:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Progcat: Mass. did not approve gay marriage, an unelected court did that. AND, that is just the kind of thing I want to avoid. Everytime we get a chance to advance a more liberal agenda a right wing group gets a vote on gay marriage or gun control on the ballot to get their constituency out to the polls. People get very disgusted when they get no say in an issue and a court finds a way to overrule their belief by finding an “intent” which was obviously not in the original document. We need to win our cases by changing peoples’ MINDS, not forcing our wills through courts. What you want is for people to APPROVE of gay marriage and in time that will happen and this will be a nonissue, but for now we need to win the case with logic, and villifying the opposition does not do that. Do not bring up interracial marriage please, as that WAS covered in the 14th ammendment.

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By ProgCat, January 26, 2009 at 12:16 am Link to this comment

Ronald Orf:
Obama is not for gay marriage and CALIFORNIA, for godssake is not for gay marriage either. Where does the liberal edge come off thinking that they can dictate what the mainstram Democratic party should believe? I personally am FOR gay marriage, but so what? The same rights can be accorded by recognizing legal unions and we do not have to shoot ourselves in the head. Outside of a few San Francisco precincts it is a net vote loser everywhere and is a periphial issue.
Wrong on Obama.

In 1996, then State Senator Obama said “I favor legalizing gay marriage.” He also believes this is a STATE issue. Of course, as candidate for President he had to change his view since Americans are so bigoted. Anyway, here a link with the original article:

Oh? So same-sex couples aren’t allowed to marry, but it’s okay to have “civil unions”? Kind of like, separate but equal more akin to the good ol’ times of segregation, you mean?

Btw, California is FAR from “the most liberal state” of the union. That would be Massachusetts and that state has already legalized gay marriage. It also has the lowest divorce rate in comparison to the most conservative state, Arkansas, that has the highest. Talk about marriage protection…sheesh.

Still, in 1998 Prop 22 (Marriage Protection Act) passed with 63% of the vote. In 2008, Prop H8, as it’s dubbed, barely passed with 52%.

Funny how California prohibits same-sex marriage (for now, but it’ll be overturned), but it’s okay to marry YOUR FIRST COUSIN. Btw, first cousin marriages aren’t only legal in TWENTY-NINE of our 50 states, but all states must recognize that marriage as legal and binding even if their state law prohibits it.

Find the logic in that.

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By ProgCat, January 25, 2009 at 11:54 pm Link to this comment

Kirsten Hillibrand, BushDogDem ~ For those people who don’t get it, Hillibrand is a repub in dem’s clothing. Her voting record shows she votes with dems 93% of the time? Right. Ever heard of “How to lie with statistics”?

Here’s how it goes.

“A fake Democrat can vote with the Democrats on every bill where the outcome is already known. When a few votes make a big difference (and this happens less frequently than one might think), then the *[BushdogDem] can and does vote with the Republicans.

One example of how this works: In the confirmation vote for Clarence Thomas. Lieberman promised the women in CT that he wouldn’t vote for Thomas. Then, when the vote came up, he passed his chance and voted against Thomas, but only later, AFTER it was clear that his vote wouldn’t be needed to confirm.

Another example: The House voting down the second half of the TARP bail out to Pres. Obama when the Senate already voted not to block its payout.

Lying with statistics.

Now the Reps in the House can go back to their constituents and tell them they voted against paying out the 2nd half and look like heroes! I mean, it’s on the record, right?

Gun control: ~ Sensible gun control, i.e. a week waiting period for background checks to make sure you’re not a trigger-happy psycho, no high-powered assault weapons that can cut through a house (unless you’re planning to pulverize a deer), “cop killing” bullets, sensible stuff like that… how is this bad?

It’s good for sales for the NRA, but not so good for the urban and suburban people of New York City where crime is rampant.

This woman has strong, corrupt ties with the likes of deeply corrupt ex-Senator Al D’Amato and Bruno (they were standing by Paterson and her at the presser for pete’s sake!).

She is a corporate-friendly DLCer (and her votes in the House support it). This woman will have to make a 180 degree change to be a senator of a relatively progressive state. Then again, it’s only for 18 months until 2010, right?

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By Ronald Orf, January 25, 2009 at 6:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I believe that the neocons actively support some of the ultraliberal websites (not Truthdig) simply to give Rush Limbaugh someone to quote. This woman has a 93% Democratic voting record and because she is not for GAY MARRIAGE she is unfit? Obama is not for gay marriage and CALIFORNIA, for godssake is not for gay marriage either. Where does the liberal edge come off thinking that they can dictate what the mainstram Democratic party should believe? I personally am FOR gay marriage, but so what? The same rights can be accorded by recognizing legal unions and we do not have to shoot ourselves in the head. Outside of a few San Francisco precincts it is a net vote loser everywhere and is a periphial issue. These are the issues that have kept the Repubs in power by getting people to vote against their own economic interests, and without them they have no chance of a takeover, but YOU people want to force them to take the extreme positions. This makes me wonder who you are rooting for, or if you simply enjoy phyrric victories. It is the same with the gun issue. We have lost a democratic constinuency in the midwest for years on the fear that we will take their guns, and do not kid yourselves, there are certain liberals who would really love to do just that if they could only find a way. As liberals we are for only punishing the guilty EXCEPT on this issue which holds that if you have a gun for any purpose you are a stupid, racist homophobe. Punish people for what they do, not what you think of them. If they misuse a gun give them a great punishment, but for godssake! do not let us get ground up in the minutiae.

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By Swampcat, January 25, 2009 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment

On the contrary, libhomo, it’s gun control that puts law abiding citizens in danger from muggers, murderers, and rapists.  If guns kill people, does that also mean that matches cause arson, water causes drowning, pencils misspell words, and spoons make people fat? Geez. I will get flamed, liberally, for exercising my 1st Amendment rights to revel in my 2nd Amendment rights. That is certain.  Could I possibly care any less? Certainly not.

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By ronald Orf, January 25, 2009 at 9:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Get real! This lady votes with the dems 93% of the time, and won in a heavily Republican district. She is a perfect candidate. Out here in Iowa, where the Dems are ascendant, a great number of people have guns for hunting and protection. Anything that is done in the area of gun control does no real good to stop gun violence or crime and may indeed do harm. Either you have libertarian instincts or you do not. To break doen the doors of law abiding citizens and take their guns is plain stupid and counterproductive. Gun control laws to stop certain kinds of weapons make sense, but in general all they do is annoy good people. This is the kind of issue that is the perfect wedge against Dems and helps to get people to vote Republican against their own economic interests.

Gay marriage? Are you kidding? IK am personally in favor, but so what? Even the most liberal state in the nation turned the proposal doen flat! Why in the H do you continue to push your politicians into tgaking stances that have a 35% support level in LIBERAL states? I almost am beginning to believe that liberals have a death wish or cannot stand actually winning. OR, the repubs have brought the issues in as a Trojan horse to get the Dems to shoot themselves in the foot on periphial issues, whrn economic fairness is what needs to be addressed.

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By vegdude, January 25, 2009 at 6:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As *another* victim of gun crimes, I could never vote for any PROPONENT of so-called “gun control.”  They disarm the good guys, leaving the guns in the hands of the bad.

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By SiberianRat, January 24, 2009 at 11:47 pm Link to this comment

I’m feeling a bit better about this choice since I found out she has actually voted with the Dems 93% of the time.  However, I find her stance on guns very disturbing for sure, and at time when crime is on the rise in the country, we need lawmakers who are going to make tough decisions to crack down on this mess.  I also think Paterson’s approach to this whole thing was unprofessional.  I’m not a NY resident, so I guess in the end they’ll have to make the judgement.

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By Blackspeare, January 24, 2009 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

Would you say that Gov. Paterson blind-sided Kennedy?!

He joked about a week before that he would name a woman of some reknown as senator——he already had his mind made up and Kennedy wanted to save face which in some respect backfired.

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By felicity, January 24, 2009 at 11:40 am Link to this comment

First off, any governor/politician worth his political salt is going to appoint a (senator, rep, whatever) with the continuation of his own political career foremost.

What’s-her-name is Mrs. upstate NY, a decidedly red place and as such probably not a place big on Patterson who’s more of a blue-stater. By appointing her, he endears himself to the great unwashed upstaters and afterall a politician never does anything that’s not ultimately for his own good.

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By ongre11, January 24, 2009 at 10:56 am Link to this comment

From how this whole episode has gone, I don’t think the Governor of New York is very intelligent.

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By dihey, January 24, 2009 at 9:47 am Link to this comment

I understand that Gillibrand is for the so-called “gay marriage”.

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By Conservative Yankee, January 24, 2009 at 7:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let mee get this straight;

The good Governor dumped Caroline Kennedy because she had no experience and appointed this zero0 which is more Republican than Democrat?

I’ve been out of New York politics since 1970, but it appears nothing has changed.

For all you history buffs, you will recognize that nothing has changed since New York’s Governor Morris.

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By libhomo, January 23, 2009 at 9:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As a victim of gun crimes, there is no possible way I could ever vote for Gillibrand.  She, like all gun control opponents, has put guns in the hands of muggers, murderers, and rapists.

I am looking forward to voting against her in the Democratic Primary in 2010.  If she wins the primary, I will vote for the Green Party candidate in the general election.  I will make campaign contributions to political opponents of hers too.

I am no longer willing to shut up and take this kind of abusive behavior by gun nut Republicans pretending to be Democrats.

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