Gillibrand named as Clinton's Senate replacement

Friday, January 23, 2009

Kirsten Gillibrand.
Image: United States Congress.

Today, David Paterson, the governor of New York, appointed Kirsten Gillibrand as the replacement in the United States Senate for Hillary Clinton, who left the position to become Secretary of State in Barack Obama's administration.

Gillibrand, 42, was a member of the House of Representatives from Hudson and is, like Clinton, a member of the Democratic Party.

"I believe I have found the best candidate to become the next senator from the state of New York. She is dynamic, she is articulate, she is perceptive, she is outspoken," said Paterson at a news conference.

This selection came after Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of former President John F. Kennedy and leading candidate for the job, withdrew from the consideration for the seat on January 21 due to unspecified personal reasons. Kennedy was one of approximately 20 candidates that Governor Paterson said he considered for the position, including fellow New York Congressmen Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler.

New York's attorney general Andrew Cuomo was also considered. Cuomo was the top choice in voter opinion polls, according to CNN.

Clinton expressed approval of the appointment in a statement: "Kirsten is an intelligent and dedicated public servant and a dear friend. I'm pleased that this seat, which has been my great honor to hold, and which has in its history been held by leaders like former Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Robert F. Kennedy, will be in such capable hands."

President Obama also approved of her, stating, "Kirsten has been a strong voice for transparency and reform in government and shares the belief that government should be open, accessible and work for all our citizens."

Kirsten has been a strong voice for transparency and reform in government and shares the belief that government should be open, accessible and work for all our citizens.

—Barack Obama

In statements, Gillibrand said that she will be a supporter of same-sex marriage and an advocate for women's rights. She has also promised a state economic stimulus package that would support New York's education as well as put forth funding for the environment and a new project that would create a high-speed rail system linking New York City with Albany, the state capital.

The appointment has been criticized by gun-control and immigration advocates. In particular Gillibrand's opinion on gun control laws has been rebuked, including her stance opposing restrictions on parts of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which outlines the right of citizens to bear arms, earning her support by the National Rifle Association.

"When I heard Gillibrand was his pick, I thought it was a joke. This is an insult to the families of gun violence victims across the state. Shame on Governor Paterson," stated Gloria Cruz of the Million Mom March which promoted tighter restrictions on the private ownership of firearms.

Gillibrand is set to be officially sworn in on Sunday, January 25.