Paterson picks Dartmouth
It looks like New York Governor David Paterson (D) has selected Rep. Kristen Gillibrand (D) to fill former Senator Hillary Clinton's seat. In my humble and inconsequential opinion, this is great news. I haven't blogged about the Kennedy-Clinton-Paterson soap opera before because I'm not a New York resident, but I have been pulling for Gillibrand the whole time. I just didn't think she'd ever get it.
Gillibrand is a Dartmouth alum. I had the chance to meet her this past spring along with several other Dartmouth students then-interning in Washington. I'm still waiting for the group picture to be e-mailed out - my requests for it have gone unanswered. Anyways, we spent close to an hour in Gillibrand's office. She discussed her previous career in business, her status as a woman in politics (she was very pregnant at the time of our meeting), took our questions - mine was about the role faith plays in her life, since I saw a small Bible sitting on one of her endtables - and made a point to encourage us to run for office and be involved in civic life. She very much struck me as ambitious up-and-comer - and indeed, there was a story in Politico not long ago about how her ambitiousness has ticked off Speaker Pelosi - but also one who was focused on policy. She was very proud of her work on the House Armed Services Committee where she has pushed to make mental care for vets a more high-profile issue.
Much of the story around Gillibrand's appointment is focusing on Caroline Kennedy, who withdrew from the selection process on Wednesday night. Regardless of what you think of her qualifications - and although I've been pulling for Gillibrand all along, I was never hostile towards Kennedy - there is no excuse for the way Paterson is treating her. She's already out of the picture, yet his aides are trashing her to the New York Post, spreading personal information about her marriage and the like. There is no valid excuse for that. This is absolute rubbish behavior coming from an office of city-slicker slimeballs. Shame on the Governor and his aides.
As for Gillibrand, some are questioning the political sense of her selection. Even though she's a woman from upstate, her selection in no way guarantees a smooth road for Democrats. According to NBC's First Read,
Gillibrand, who won her congressional seat in 2006 due in large part to the Democratic wave and a last-minute news report alleging that the wife of her Republican opponent (the incumbent Rep. John Sweeney) had called police to complain that he was “knocking her around.” Can she raise the money needed to hold on to the Senate seat? (Remember, she will not only have to run in 2010, but also in 2012, when Clinton’s term is up.) Can she avoid a Democratic primary? (It doesn't look like it. The New York Times reports that Democratic Rep. Carolyn McCarthy says she is prepared to run against Gillibrand due to Gillibrand’s pro-gun views.) Also, by picking Gillibrand, has Paterson given Republicans an opportunity to pick up her Upstate congressional seat?
I don't care. Policy and character must come before politics, and I'm sticking behind my fellow Dartmouth alum.