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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