Tag Archives: Kirsten Gillibrand

If She Can’t Get That Ring On Her Finger, How Can We Trust Her to Bring Home the Bacon?

According to The Gray Lady (the New York newspaper not owned by Rupert Murdoch), Crazy Billionaire Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s gal pal, Diana Taylor was considering a run as a republican for the New York senate seat previously held by Hillary Clinton, now being warmed by Kirsten Gillibrand.

You’d think Kirsten was a commie out to crush the banks or something, the way the Wall Street money types keep going into back rooms to look for people to dethrone her.  First they picked Harold Ford Jr.  who fizzled out when he couldn’t explain to Stephen Colbert how changing his opinion about everything since moving north didn’t make him a slippery, opportunistic operator.  It didn’t help that he’d only seen Staten Island from a helicopter and probably couldn’t find his way to Times Square on the seven train.

According to the Times article, Senator Taylor was the brainchild of Susan Molinari, the former congresswoman who’d inherited her seat from her father, Guy Molinari who used to be the King of Staten Island and was the only member of Congress to vote against the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday.

Taylor, like her boyfriend is a fiscal conservative, more liberal on social issues.  She had worked as an aide to former governor and republican operative, George Pataki and has done some good work in international micro-finance.  Per the Times, even Bono likes her.

Granted senators should be serious lawmakers, not pothole fixers, but still she seems to lack the common touch.  It’s hard to imagine her rubbing elbows with the plebs in any context or convincing them that she has a clue about their lives.  Voters elect people they believe will get the job done. The job (from the point of view of the constituents) is getting money and services back to your state.  While Taylor’s Wall Street friends may see her as someone who could bring it home, I doubt a majority of voters would.  Even her boyfriend has lost his luster.  After getting another crazy billionaire to drop his opposition to term limits “just this once,” and spending a record $85 million on his last re-election campaign, he was still almost beaten by a virtual non-entity.

Taylor’s “affiliation” with Bloomberg could hurt her in other ways as well, and I don’t just mean all of the cries of unfair influence because the man with whom she sleeps is both a mayor and a financial powerhouse.  We want a senator who can deliver, and by deliver, I mean the max — roads, schools, jobs, federal dollars up the wazoo for New York.  Diana has been her billionaire boyfriend’s “companion” for how many years now?  And yet, she still hasn’t sealed the deal.  Where’s the rock on her finger?  Call me old-fashioned, but if marriage didn’t still carry significant financial benefits, achieving marriage equality wouldn’t be such a big deal.  Diana may be a shrewd independent operator, but her man has assets, and if she’s so smart, why hasn’t she managed to get her hands on more of them?

So am I really saying I wouldn’t support Taylor because she not a gold-digger?  No, I wouldn’t support her for many reasons including the fact that the more certain New York financial types plot against Gillibrand, the more convinced I am that she’s maybe doing a good job.  But seriously, if Taylor’s appeal is her connections and the fact that she’s in bed with Big Money, shouldn’t Big Money at least make an honest woman out of her?

Carpetbagger or Hired Gun? Should Harold Ford Jr. Run for a New York Senate Seat?

Update: March 1st 2010 —  Ford has quit.  Given up!  And while many will credit Stephen Colbert for righteously taking him down, I’d like to think this early blog (editor’s pick on Open Salon) might have helped.  So for the next couple of days, it gets a sticky!


1968, flashback to my 8 year-old self: I wake up to the news on the radio that Bobby Kennedy has been shot. I stumble into my parents’ bedroom waking them with the announcement. My mother still groggy says, “I never liked him. He was a carpetbagger.”

More than thirty years later, the year 2000, both my parents are thrilled that Hillary will be running for a New York senate seat. I bring up the “carpetbagger” remark which my mother denies making. My father points out that Bill was “our” President and he’s willing to consider the Clintons honorary New Yorkers.

January 6, 2010, The New York Times reports that former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr. may be planning a Senate run against Kirsten Gillibrand — the plucky, upstate congresswoman appointed to fill Hilary’s seat by hapless Governor Paterson, after the whole Caroline Kennedy mess.

According to The Times, “discussions between Mr. Ford and top Democratic donors reflect the dissatisfaction of some prominent party members with Ms. Gillibrand, who has yet to win over key constituencies, especially in New York City.”

Certainly there is an upstate/downstate divide. Paterson had wanted to appoint an upstater for balance, a practical measure to help him in his planned run for the office to which he was appointed as a result of the Elliot Spitzer scandal. Before her appointment, there was concern that Gillibrand was too conservative for downstate particularly on issues like gun control. Gillibrand had been known as a strong supporter of gun ownership and “hunters’ rights.” For an upstate politician, any other position would be political suicide. She’s since moderated or at least finessed her stance and has even worked with crusading anti-gun Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy. McCarthy had previously considered running against Gillibrand over this issue.

Ford is from a conservative southern state. He is chairman of the Centrist Democratic Leadership Council and the son of a former congressman. He moved to New York in 2006 after his unsuccessful senate run in Tennessee and took a job as vice chairman of Merrill Lynch. For most New Yorker’s he’s an unknown quality, a handsome talking head/political consultant -commentator on MSNBC.

The democrats supporting him are an elite group of donors — high-powered people in the financial sector. The Times alludes to Ford’s “formidable track record as a fund raiser” and potential ability to “tap into African American voters nationwide.”

There is no mention within the article of how the two candidates, both centrists, differ on any policy issues. New York City and the downstate region are known for being more liberal than upstate. Why run someone in opposition to Gillibrand who has no substantial policy differences?

One can foresee the drama that would play out should Ford enter the race. This is one show that New York does not need. Her side: The spunky, blonde upstater standing up to the liberal elites power-brokers from the City — she tried to work with them, but they were against her from the start and brought in an out of town hired-gun to do their dirty work. His side: A young, smart African American man just like the president New Yorkers have come to embrace running against an attractive woman playing to the worst fears of the white working class.

In a sick way, the blonde gal versus the black man of course evokes Hilary vs. Obama as well as Obama vs. Palin. Ford and his backers should remember, however, that Hilary whose campaign was already losing a lot of its luster and who had alienated many of her constituents by voting for Bush’s war, still managed to eek out a victory over Obama in the New York state primary. In the general election, Obama was victorious over McCain/Palin — but this had to do with actual issues about which New Yorkers cared.

The city may not have warmed to Gillibrand yet, but she’s working on it and at least she’ll never have the “carpetbagger” label. A bunch of big name fat-cats reaching out to Ford and hoping to market his blackness seems like the worst kind of pandering. It insults voters the same way as the McCain campaign did by picking a female vice presidential candidate hoping it would bring in alienated Hilary supporters. The idea that Ford will succeed with urban voters based on his image versus his substance does no service to Ford or the people of New York.

Gillibrand has already shown herself to be an adroit politician and a tough one. There’s no way that a primary fight over personalities and not issues especially one with an upstate/downstate divide can be good for the dems especially in what will be a tough season for them all around.

As for Harold Ford Jr., my advice to him — if you’re really committed to the people of our state, wouldn’t it make sense to start working for them on a local level even in a non-elected capacity? There’ll be other opportunities to run. Let us get to know you. We love immigrants and have been known to take them into our hearts.

(This blog is also available at Marion’s Open Salon page where it was an “Editor’s Pick”. More comments there.)