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Source: Rochester City Newspaper

POLITICS: Who? Paterson appoints Gillibrand


Posted: January 24, 2009
Originally Published: January 23, 2009

Now the question is: Who's going to break the news to Fran Drescher?

Governor David Paterson today announced that Representative Kirsten Gillibrand will be Hillary Clinton's successor in the US Senate.

"For many New Yorkers, this is the first time you've heard my name and you don't know much about me," Gillibrand said at a press conference this afternoon "Over the next two years, you will get to know me and, more importantly, I will get to know your priorities."

She's right - apart from political junkies, many New Yorkers don't know much about Gillibrand. So here's a quick rundown. She's a Columbia County Democrat and is the first Upstate senator since 1970. She was elected to the House of Representatives during the 2006 election. She represents, in the words of US Senator Chuck Schumer, "the most Republican district in New York." And yet, during her first re-election campaign in November, she earned 62 percent of the vote and trounced her Republican opponent.

She typically votes with her party, but breaks with them on some issues. She supports gun rights, which puts her at opposition to some Democrats. The New York Times today reported that Representative Carolyn McCarthy, a gun- control advocate, said she'd primary Gillibrand in 2010.

During the press conference, Gillibrand's response was that she'd work with McCarthy to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. But she also clearly stated that she supports hunters' rights.

Schumer, who media reports say backed Gillibrand for the selection, said the two differ on gun issues and already seems to be nudging her in a different direction.

"Her views will evolve to represent the whole state," Schumer said.

Immigration may be another troubling issue for Gillibrand, since she favors securing the southern border and opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants.

On Iraq, she has voted to draw down troops.

On other issues, NARAL Pro-choice America rates her as pro-choice and the Empire State Pride Agenda today issued a press release saying that Gillibrand supports same-sex marriage equality, the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and outlawing discrimination against transgendered people.

A slew of politicians and advocacy groups praised the appointment. Among them: Mayor Bob Duffy, County Executive Maggie Brooks, Representatives Eric Massa and Dan Maffei, Family Planning Advocates of New York, Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse Region, State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, and Citizens Campaign for the Environment.