Kirsten Gillibrand: New York's Next Senator

02/22/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Gov. David Paterson appointed Democratic U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand on Friday to fill New York's vacant Senate seat, finally settling on a woman from a largely rural, eastern district of the state to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"I appreciate the opportunity that you have afforded me and the trust that you have placed in me," she told Paterson. "I realize that for many New Yorkers, this is the first time you've heard my name and you don't know much about me."

UPDATE 1/23: 8:00am
Both The New York Times and the Associated Press are confirming that Governor Paterson will announce Kirsten Gillibrand as New York's next Senator:

The New York Times also notes that Paterson decided on Gillibrand last Friday. The AP says that some fellow Democrats are showing concern over the Gillibrand pick.

Mr. Paterson made his final decision shortly before 2 a.m. Friday after a marathon series of phone calls and deliberations with his top aides, according to the person who spoke to him. He began making phone calls to other contenders about 9 p.m., and had notified most of the other contenders by midnight. By then, the only two candidates who had not heard from Mr. Paterson were Ms. Gillibrand and Randi Weingarten, the president of the United Federation of Teachers.

Others in the field, led by more senior politicians, including U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, criticized Gillibrand as recently as Thursday evening, saying her support of more conservative issues such as gun ownership rights was out of step with most New York Democrats.

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FROM 1/23
A source close to a rival candidate for the Senate seat tells the Huffington Post that Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand has indeed been picked, as was first reported earlier this evening. The source said that the rival candidate had been told by Gov. Paterson's office that he had chosen Gillibrand.

Scroll down for updates, photos and more information, including Gillibrand's biography and Congressional voting record:

UPDATE 12:40AM:
The New York Daily News also reports that Gillibrand is poised to take the seat:

Gov. Paterson appears poised today to pick an upstate congresswoman with close ties to Hillary Clinton as the next U.S. senator, the Daily News has learned.

After two months of speculation and chaos, sources said Paterson has settled on Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-Hudson) to fill the seat of Clinton, President Obama's new secretary of state.

UPDATE 11:30PM:
Politico noted some of the benefits that Gillibrand would provide Paterson and the strong opposition to the pick from New York Democrat Carolyn McCarthy:

Gillibrand brings several important political attributes critical to Patterson, who became governor when Eliot Spitzer resigned and has never topped a statewide ticket, when both run for their offices in 2010: She represents a relatively conservative part of upstate the governor hopes to woo, she's a formidable fundraiser with connections to Hillary Clinton's cash-generating apparatus and she's a woman in a state that prides itself of inclusiveness.

"She would not be my choice and I talked to the governor about it two weeks ago," McCarthy told Politico last night. "This morning I basically started getting calls saying he was going to choose her and I had to speak out, even at the risk of alienating the governor. I do not believe New York should have a senator who has these positions... I just came through the 15th anniversary of when my husband was killed and I my son was maimed from the shooting."

UPDATE 11:10PM:
The New York Times was a little more skeptical, reporting that Gillibrand was the front-runner but not definitely Paterson's pick:

While some Democratic lawmakers and officials said they believed that Ms. Gillibrand was the front-runner, others pondered whether the attention on her was being fanned by Mr. Paterson's own advisers to distract the press as he laid the groundwork to pick someone else, possibly Mr. Cuomo.

Still, Ms. Gillibrand's sudden status as an apparent top candidate was enough to set off attacks from her rivals and critics, who abandoned any pretense that they would support whomever Mr. Paterson selected.

Click through this slideshow of Gillibrand:

Kirsten Gillibrand

UPDATE 11:00PM:

Fox News is also reporting that Gillibrand will be named by Gov. Paterson on Friday:

New York Gov. David Paterson will name Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, an upstate Democrat, to replace Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate, a Democratic official with knowledge of the governor's decision told FOX News on Thursday night.

Gillibrand, elected in 2006, represents the state's 20th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is the first Democrat to represent the district since 1978 -- and the first female representative of the district.

"I'm honored just to be considered," Gillibrand told FOX News earlier Thursday.

Democratic governor Paterson's choice of Gillibrand over Kennedy is puzzling, since Gillibrand's family has strong ties to Republicans, reports the Village Voice:

The irony is that Paterson may be swinging from the nation's most prominent Democratic family to one with strong Republican ties. Gillibrand's father, Doug Rutnik, is an Albany insider and lobbyist whose ties to former GOP powerhouses Joe Bruno, George Pataki and Al D'Amato are legendary. In fact, Gillibrand won her seat when a state police domestic violence report about the GOP incumbent, John Sweeney, was mysteriously leaked, ostensibly with the acquiescence of the Pataki administration, which had its own reasons to oppose Sweeney. Bruno is under federal investigation now, and some of the subpoenas in the case involved a real estate deal that partnered Rutnik with Bruno and another lobbyist. Rutnik dated, and eventually lived with, a top Pataki and D'Amato aide for many years, until he broke up with her in 2006 to marry a cousin of his, Gwen Lee, who'd worked in high-paying state jobs secured by the same aide. Rutnik and D'Amato have been registered lobbyists for some of the same clients.

Ironically, Chuck Schumer, who defeated D'Amato in 1998, is said to be Gillibrand's top Democratic champion. What's even more ironic is that Gillibrand has a one hundred percent rating from the National Rifle Association, and Schumer made his own national reputation as a sponsor of the assault weapons ban and a fierce proponent of Brady bill and other gun control legislation. Gillibrand even opposes any limitations on the sale of semiautomatic weapons or "cop-killer" bullets that can pierce armored vests. Schumer's other signature issue is the care and feeding of Wall Street, and Gillibrand voted against both of the Schumer-supported financial service bailout bills last fall, which have delivered billions to New York, salvaging institutions like Citigroup. An editorial in Crain's, the city's premier business news magazine, said recently that Gillibrand "should be disqualified" from seeking the senate seat "by her politically expedient vote" against the bailout.

UPDATE 9:20pm
The Albany Times Union has more evidence pointing towards Kirsten Gillibrand being the pick:

While Gillibrand's spokeswoman denied any contact between Gillibrand and Paterson throughout the day Thursday, a highly placed Democratic source said that members of New York's Congressional delegation were briefed Thursday afternoon that Gillibrand will be named.[...]

In addition, the guest list for Friday's announcement includes a number of people close to the second-term congresswoman: Congressman Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, and Susan Savage, chairwoman of the Schenectady County Legislature, are expected to be there. Leaders from across Gillibrand's Congressional district said they received invitations from the governor's office to be on hand as well.

UPDATE 8.40PM:
MSNBC is reporting that Congresswoman Gillibrand has been called to an 11 a.m. meeting on Friday morning with Gov. Paterson, which would seem to fuel further speculation that she will be the choice to fill Senator Clinton's seat.

WPIX is reporting Thursday night that New York Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand is to be named by Gov. David Paterson to fill Hillary Clinton's Senate seat:

PIX NEWS is being told that Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand is the reported choice of Governor David Paterson to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton. Two Congressional sources say members of the New York delegation have been invited to join Governor Paterson for the announcement in Albany at noon tomorrow.[...]


With most Democratic leaders in Albany coming from the New York City area, one source said this would be an important move for the Governor to have a Senator from upstate. Sources say Gillibrand would be an asset to Paterson in any bid for election in 2010.

While some insist Gillibrand is the Governor's choice, another New York Congressman cautioned tonight that "It's not a done deal." He claims there is some political in-fighting and ongoing conversations with the Governor. There appears to be some challenge to Gillibrand's voting record. She's now serving her second term. Reached for comment, the Dean of New York's Congressional delegation, Charlie Rangel, would say nothing more than that he's been invited to join the governor for an announcement tomorrow morning.

The news came after Caroline Kennedy withdrew from consideration late Wednesday night.

More on Kirsten Gillibrand:

From Kirsten Gillibrand's official website:

Congresswoman Gillibrand serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Agriculture Committee . On the Armed Services Committee, Representative Gillibrand serves on the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities subcommittee and the Seapower subcommittee. On the Agriculture Committee Representative Gillibrand serves on the Livestock, Dairy and Poultry subcommittee, Conservation Credit Energy and Research subcommittee and the Horticulture and Organic Agriculture subcommittee.[...]

During the administration of President Clinton, Gillibrand served as Special Counsel to the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Andrew Cuomo. At HUD she played a key role in furthering HUD's Labor Initiative and New Markets initiative, working to strengthen enforcement of the Davis-Bacon Act and drafting new markets legislation for public and private investment in building infrastructure to revitalize lower income areas across the nation. Following federal service, Congresswoman Gillibrand entered the private sector, joining one of the Country's premier law firms.

WATCH a commercial from Gillibrand's 2008 re-election campaign:

Kirsten Gillibrand's Wikipedia entry claims that she was "born into a politically connected family" in Albany and has more on her life before and outside the office:

After attending Albany's Academy of Holy Names, she graduated in 1984 from Emma Willard School in Troy, New York, the first all women's high school in the United States.

A magna cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College in 1988, Gillibrand went on to receive her law degree from the UCLA School of Law in 1991 and served as a law clerk on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.[...]

She splits her time between Greenport, New York and Washington D.C. with her husband, Jonathan Gillibrand, and their son, Theodore (b. 2004). On May 15, 2008, Gillibrand gave birth to her second child, Henry Nelson Gillibrand, making her the sixth woman to have a child while serving as a Member of Congress.

Here is Gillibrand's voting record in Congress, where she has recently voted with a majority of her Democratic colleagues 93.3% of the time.