Gillibrand Might Be a Major Pain for Democrats

It's because she smells like barbecue!
It's because she smells like barbecue! Photo: AP

The selection of Representative Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton's Senate seat is going to be controversial. She holds some positions that deviate from usual liberal dogma — in particular, as a staunch supporter of gun ownership. Carolyn McCarthy, a gun-control advocate whose husband was killed in the 1993 LIRR shooting spree, has already pledged to take her on in 2010. Governor Paterson is apparently getting an earful from Gillibrand's colleagues; at least five members from New York's congressional delegation called him to protest his decision. But overall, opinion seems split on the merits of the selection and the challenges it will present for the Democratic Party.

• Josh Kraushaar runs down the pros and cons. Pros: her crossover appeal, fund-raising prowess, and gender. Cons: her "privileged background," a likely primary challenge in 2010, and the opening of her congressional seat in a heavily Republican district. [Scorecard/Politico]

• Chuck Todd and friends ask if Gillibrand can raise the money for campaigns in 2010 and, if she wins, 2012. She'll also likely face a primary opponent, and Democrats will have to work to hold on to her House seat. These unknowns mean this "isn't the ideal situation for the Democratic Party." [First Read/MSNBC]

• Dana Goldstein initially felt "that Paterson made a bold choice in favor of youth, smarts, and policy chops over connectedness (Andrew Cuomo) or interest group support (Carolyn Maloney)." But with Gillibrand, there are "some red flags in terms of civil rights issues," such as gay marriage. [Tapped/American Prospect]

• Elizabeth Benjamin writes that Gillibrand's position on gay marriage "has definitely evolved," and she is now assuring the Empire State Pride Agenda that she supports gay marriage. [Daily Politics/NYDN]

• Steve Kornacki reasons that "[i]nstead of insisting on rigid ideological purity ... Democrats should appreciate the value of Gillibrand's heresies." She'll "be a strong candidate in 2010," her moderation making her "infinitely more appealing to conservative-leaning independent voters upstate." [NYO]

• Alex Koppelman calls it an "interesting choice" since, "considering the deep blue shade of statewide politics here, moderation wasn't really a necessary qualification for the pick." [War Room/Salon]

• Ben Smith says that besides her pro-gun stance, Gillibrand "is more or less a down-the-line liberal Democrat." New York pols think she's "a pretty good pick," though she risks being "tarnished by the process that chose her ... and yoked to a governor who is in serious trouble." [Politico]

• Ben Pershing wonders who President Obama and Hillary Clinton will support in 2010 if a more solid liberal Democrat runs against Gillibrand. Though "the party leadership usually rallies around incumbents ... this could well be one of those exceptions, particularly given the way Gillibrand is getting the seat." [Rundown/WP]

• Lisa Schiffren calls Gillibrand "a solid pick," and for Republicans, "she is as good as it's likely to get any time soon. For this, I suppose, we must be grateful." [Corner/National Review]

• Eve Fairbanks lists ten things you didn't know about Gillibrand, and calls her "a perfect Caroline Kennedy replacement: A woman with cash, but without all that baggage!" [Plank/New Republic]

• Ken Silverstein doesn't know much about Gillibrand, but is just glad Paterson "didn’t turn this into a political episode of Dynasty by naming Caroline Kennedy or Andrew Cuomo." [Washington Babylon/Harper's]