Hey fellow Dems,
Welcome to Election Watch 2010 with your lovely board members Matt and Bridgit! Every Thursday, we will be taking a look at upcoming Senate races across the country, aiming to give all our members an idea of how the elections and our nation will be shaping up in the coming years. We’re going to kick off our weekly series by tackling our local race, Senator Gillibrand’s reelection fight.
Gillibrand came into the Senate via gubernatorial appointment to fill now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s vacant seat. Prior to becoming a senator, Gillibrand served New York’s 20th District in the House of Representatives. Since joining the Senate, she has been a fierce advocate for President Obama’s progressive policies, and has taken the lead on repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, an issue of significant importance to these two authors. Although she has suffered from low poll numbers (only 24% of registered voters in the state give her good or excellent marks), she is still very much the favorite to win reelection, thanks to serving a heavily Democratic leaning state and a weak collection of Republican challengers. In addition, being that she has only been a Senator for two years, her name recognition is still quite low (25% of voters in the same poll had never heard of her), and her popularity is expected to rise as she gains a stronger reputation and has more experience.
This election is the first big challenge for Gillibrand, being that she was appointed by Governor Paterson and therefore must be reelected by the people this year. Her appointment was contentious, being that big name New York liberals such as Caroline Kennedy and Andrew Cuomo were thought to have wanted the seat. Paterson’s decision to choose Gillibrand led to much anger initially in the party, possibly contributing to her low poll numbers, and even leading some to believe that she would have an intense primary fight. However, the White House and the Democratic Party has pressured potential primary challengers to drop out of the race, leaving the path to the general election open for Gillibrand. Due to President Obama’s public support for her, the only potential competition is Harold Ford, Jr., who is mulling the possibility of running. Nonetheless, it is widely expected that she will win the primary and proceed with the party’s support in the general election (recent polls have her leading Ford by as much as 25 points).
The Republican Party has yet to have any candidates formally announce their intentions to the challenge Gillibrand. Her possible general election opponents include former New York governor George Pataki and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, but both men have alluded to the fact that they have no interest in challenging her. Until they do pick a candidate, it is difficult to imagine Senator Gillibrand having too tough of a time retaining her seat, especially because she has the President’s support, who won New York with a whopping 63% of the vote in 2008.
Next Week: We take a look at the two Democratic seats held in McCain states — North Dakota and Arkansas.
I don’t always get political, but when I do, I prefer the Democrats. Stay liberal my friends.