Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior Senator from New York, and one of many Democratic Party figures running for nomination to be the next President, has yet to score as high as 2% in the national polls. The lack of a Gillibrand ‘take-off’ has surprised many observers.
Gillibrand won a special election in 2010 to the New York Senate seat left vacant when Senator Hillary Clinton left that post to become Secretary of State under President Obama. Gillibrand was re-elected to a full term in 2012, then again last year.
By the standards of that institution, then, she might still be considered a newbie. But she was on her way to becoming a star by 2017, when she both co-sponsored a Medicare for All bill and took the lead in urging the resignation of Senator Al Franken (D – MN), in the face of sexual harassment allegations.
This is the context in which her campaign for President has been received: first as promising, then (as it failed to catch fire in the grass roots of the party) as disappointing.
The Thing to Know
A recent Politico profile suggests that Gillibrand has been too cautious for her own good. She “seems to believe that she can’t afford to alienate any one bloc of voters,” writes Tim Alberta, whereas the strategically savvy path might be to willingly alienate some voters within a crowded field, as the price of developing and firing up a passionate base of voters of her own.