January 23rd, 2009
12:49 PM ET
9 months ago

Gillibrand's House seat could be GOP opportunity

 Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand thanks Gov. David Paterson, right, after her appointment to the Senate on Friday.
Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand thanks Gov. David Paterson, right, after her appointment to the Senate on Friday.

(CNN) - Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand's promotion to the United States Senate gives the Republicans an opportunity to score a campaign victory early this year.

Related: Paterson names Clinton successor

Gillibrand's House seat will remain open until New York State Governor David Paterson schedules a special election. That contest needs to take place 30-40 days from when Paterson issues a proclamation on a special election - but the timing of that announcement is up to the governor.

Paterson today named Gillibrand to fill New York's vacant Senate seat, which opened up after Hillary Clinton resigned to serve as Secretary of State.

Until today, Gillibrand represented New York's 20th congressional district, which stretches from Dutchess county, at the northern fringe of the New York City suburbs, all the way north to Saratoga, Washington and Warren counties in the northern part of the state and west to Green and Delaware counties in the northern Catskills region.

The district is conservative and was considered a safe Republican seat until Gillibrand knocked off then Republican Congressman John Sweeney in an ugly campaign battle in 2006. Gillibrand won that election by 6 points, and re-election to the seat by 24 points in 2008.

Despite her landslide victory, the district continues to lean Republican. "We view this as a potential opportunity,” says Ken Spain, Communications Director at the National Republican Congressional Committee. “The party central committee will decide on a candidate and we will assess the situation from there, but first Governor Paterson will need to decide on a special election date."

Democrats acknowledge that will be a challenge to keep the seat, but they point out that Barack Obama won the district by a small margin in November.

One Democratic strategist says that the party’s priority will be making sure their candidate has the necessary resources to run an aggressive voter contact program.


Filed under: Kirsten Gillibrand
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Matt

    Good going Paterson. Way to play the gender card in preparation for your next election campaign.

    January 23, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  2. Kathy

    Why would the governor, who is facing tough decisions on the NY economy, take the route which will dictate a special election (for a new US Rep.) which will surely cost the state much money? I lived in CA for years and never understood the financial rationale of so many elections held in that state. Now, NY baffles me with this decision. Is there no one out there fitting the requirements for a NY US Rep. who could be put in place without further disrupting government personnel?

    January 23, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. proudliberal-independent

    of course. she is a 'blue-dog', or 'reagan democrat', in a conservative district. a republican in democratic clothes. another 'stuck-in-the-mud' , so-called, democrat.

    January 23, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. Peter

    oooh please, they just wish. This is New york not Tennessee!

    January 23, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. karen-Phoenix

    NO GOP until they change their "wicked ways"!!

    January 23, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. jason

    "Good going Paterson. Way to play the gender card in preparation for your next election campaign."

    because that's the only way women get ahead in this world. if a man doesn't throw them a bone, well, forget it then. they're not going anywhere. (/sarcasm).

    if paterson appoints a man, he's crucified because there's one less woman in the senate. if paterson appoints a woman, he's apparently playing the gender card.

    January 23, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  7. Paul

    Why,? Sounds like she almost IS a republican. She probably has a pretty good chance of defending that seat.

    January 23, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. Greed is not good

    So be it...it is far more important to pick a solid Senator to represent New York for the long-term, than losing 1 house seat.

    Great choice by the Gov. Social conservative Democrats represent a large chunk of the party and need better representation.

    January 23, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  9. Greed is not good

    Great choice by the Gov. Social conservative Democrats represent a large chunk of the party and need better representation.

    January 23, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  10. mjm

    A Reagan Democrat? This is to good to be true. I'll take that over Clinton any day. GOOD PICK!

    January 23, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  11. Jon

    Diplomatic pick, and one that certainly was better conceived than Burris.

    Moderates are the ones that keep things going in Washington. I just hope a moderate Democrat will be able to hold Gillibrand's house seat.

    January 23, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  12. john ray

    I wonder who will run against her. If it's Giulani, she'd win by a landslide. If it's John Faso, I don't know.

    January 23, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. Which side fence is he on?

    She is a Republican wearing sheeps clothing way to go great choice ?NOTby Hillary R.C.

    January 23, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. Matt

    @ jason

    No, you're not a Senator for a portion of the state, you're a Senator for the whole State. Therefore, Paterson is not necessarily protecting that seat for the Dems by catering to the viewpoint of a portion of the populace. The point is, Paterson should have simply appointed the best person for the job, not catered to women to protect his own popularity in preparation for running again. Cuomo had far more widespread support, more experience and his policy positions are more in line with the interests the Dems are trying to further in the legislative branch under Obama. When you put it all together, it becomes obvious what Paterson was doing.

    January 23, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  15. LLT

    Prepetual elections will be the downfall of America!! Let the woman get into the door of Congress and get down to the business of governing NOW rather than constantly worrying about reelection!!

    January 23, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  16. roman beavers

    I wanted Caroline Kennedy to be the senator it's in her blood to serve the people she's a natural, i was very disappointed when she dropped out ,i trust the governor's choice he seems to know how to judge a person well.There will be another chance for caroline kennedy.

    January 23, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. john

    Is Paterson blind? Why didn't he pick a Kennedy!

    January 23, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  18. Bill

    Dems should play a Reagan democrat for the seat. Conservatives in the north east tend not to be christian fundamentalists, so the seat could possibly stay in dem hands if they play the right candidate.

    Also, Obama's coat tails are pretty long right now. I'm sure a dem could continue riding them for a good while before scandals inevitably erupt aound him.

    The GOP would be foolish to run a bible thumper whereas the dems shouldn't run a liberal whack job. The resulting picks will likely be two candidates who have very similar positions on most everything. Therefore, the race will boil down to local issues. Dems should have the upper hand because the tide right now is in there favor.

    Thats my take...

    January 23, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  19. paul (staunch Moderate)

    Blue-dog Dem simply means her ideology is closer to the majority of the people in this county: just right of center fiscally; just left of center socially.

    I feel badly that now the state of NY will spend millions holding a special election to find her replacement in the House at a time when it can least afford it (financially speaking).

    January 23, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  20. Patrick

    Sounds like she is the type of candidate we need more of. The democratic party has gone way to the left. I want more "blue dog" dems or "rino" repubs.

    January 23, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  21. Angie in Pa

    She is a republican pretending to be a Democrat kinda like Joe Liberman great going Paterson!

    January 23, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. gt

    new york is a disaster the green party could win here ,,,,,gilldabrand is as qualified as sara palin,,,,very weak choice

    January 23, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  23. Mike, Syracuse NY

    @Jason, it was been very well reported that women's groups were pressuring Paterson from day 1 to appoint a woman. It was surely a factor in the decision. that being said, Gillibrand appears much more qualified than Kennedy and her Palin-like speaking ability.

    January 23, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  24. Matt

    Great choice Governor Patterson. Definitely way better pick than Caroline Kennedy. Senator-designate Gillibrand will make New York proud. And of, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton loves her too!

    January 23, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. Lisbon

    She is a patriot, unlike the Clintons and the god king Obama. Enshala.

    January 23, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
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