We like U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, but we can’t get excited about her presidential aspirations.
Gillibrand formally announced her candidacy last weekend after announcing an “exploratory committee” on Stephen Colbert’s television show in January.
Gillibrand, a Democrat, was a breath of fresh air when she emerged on the political stage in 2006 and defeated Rep. John Sweeney in New York’s then-20th Congressional District — a district that Sweeney had bragged no Republican could ever lose. The district included much of our coverage area and we got to know her.
She was a moderate Democrat whose enthusiasm for public service was obvious.
We were happy in 2009, when then-New York Gov. David Paterson appointed Gillibrand to the U.S. Senate seat Hillary Clinton vacated when she became secretary of state. It was the same seat once occupied by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a resident of Pindars Corners. It seemed like a good fit.
Gillibrand has been a fine senator. She has kept ties to rural issues as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. She even stops by from time to time.
Her biggest splash in Washington has been as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, where she has fought against sexual abuse and assault in the military — a noble fight against an unacceptable situation.
Gillibrand has taken a left turn since her days as a “Blue Dog” Democrat in the house. There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what’s in her heart. New York voters certainly haven’t minded. They’ve given her landslide re-election victories.
But her position changes seem more like reactions to the political winds — the acts of a follower rather than a leader. Newer, shinier Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have stolen the party’s spotlight and Gillibrand, among others, seems to be trying to edge her way back into it.
We’re not the only ones not enthused about her run. The RealClear Politics average of national polls has Gillibrand dead last among announced or expected Democratic candidates for president, at four-tenths of a percent.
That’s right. Less than half a percent.
Joe Biden, who has not yet announced a bid, leads the polling as the choice of 29.4 percent, on average, of those surveyed.
It’s reminiscent of another New Yorker, former Gov. George Pataki, a Republican who ran for president in 2016, but whose numbers stayed around one percent until he called off his campaign.
Democratic officeholders here in Gillibrand’s home state have not jumped on her wagon, either.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has hinted he will support Biden, should the former vice president become a candidate for the White House. Gillibrand’s teammate in Washington, Sen. Chuck Schumer, is so far staying on the sidelines as the field of Democratic presidential hopefuls expands.
Among New York’s 21 congressional Democrats, only Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-Manhattan, has thrown support to Gillibrand.
“Clearly, coming out of the starting gate, she has not generated the kind of buzz that some of the other candidates have,” said Marist College pollster Lee Miringoff.
“I don’t think endorsements add up to a whole in the greater scheme of things; but this is an indication that a lot of people are not looking at her chances as rosy at the moment,” Miringoff said.
At just 52 years old, Gillibrand has plenty of time for more presidential runs. We wish she’d sit this one out, though.
We’d like her to stay in the Senate and gain some of the gravitas, credibility and leadership qualities needed to break out of a pack of politicians and credibly take on the biggest job in the world.
This article provided by NewsEdge.