Senator Gillibrand’s transition into office and preparation for her reelection campaign has been greatly helped by the well-oiled machine Hillary Clinton left behind. Nearly all of Clinton’s New York staff has stayed on to work for Gillibrand, her powerful network of fund-raising connections is still churning out the cash, and her other contacts are showing the upstater how to humor all of New York’s various ethnic constituencies. But today the Times briefly hits on what may be motivating some of Clinton’s most loyal hands to work so hard for Gillibrand, and it’s not necessarily the kindness of their own hearts.
In reality, like athletes working out on their own during the off-season, some of Clinton’s die-hard supporters are just trying to stay sharp for when Clinton inevitably runs for president in eight years.
“Hard-core Hillary supporters are fully expecting her to run again in 2016,” said one New York official with deep Clinton ties who demanded anonymity so as not to be seen as speaking for Mrs. Clinton. “That is one reality. Kirsten is a more local reality. But for folks in New York, she gives them a focus.”
In other words, Gillibrand is just a means to avoid getting rusty. Clinton is only 61 years old, which means age shouldn’t disqualify her from running again. And, in fact, Steve Kornacki notes today that Clinton’s time as secretary of State is already paying dividends in the popularity department — a poll released last week put her favorable/unfavorable numbers at 59–22, an “all-time high.”