Appointed Senators Hit the Campaign Trail Over Recess

Posted February 19, 2009 at 2:46pm

As Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) fights back a storm of controversy back home over his questionable ascent to the seat vacated by President Barack Obama, two of the three other Senators appointed to fill vacancies earlier this year are spending the Congressional recess pounding the pavement and gearing up for their statewide bids in 2010.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), appointed last month to fill the seat once held by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, is meeting with community groups and local elected leaders in New York City on Thursday.

The upstate Democrat, who trailed potential 2010 primary challenger Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) by 10 points in a recent Quinnipiac University poll, will take her recess week tour to Long Island on Friday. The area is represented by Reps. Peter King (R) and Steve Israel (D), possible candidates for Senate in 2010, and Gillibrand’s stop there is an early attempt to woo voters.

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who most recently served as Denver’s school superintendent, has spent the past few days traveling to southwest and northeast Colorado as he lays the groundwork for a 2010 bid.

Appointed by Gov. Bill Ritter (D) last month to replace Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Bennet has promoted the $789 billion economic stimulus package throughout the state, and attended Obama’s bill signing ceremony for the measure in Denver on Tuesday.

But Bennet, who has never been elected to public office, has focused mostly on Colorado’s swing districts to the east and west of Denver this week.

“We’re introducing ourselves to communities outside of Denver,” Bennet spokesman Michael Amodeo said. “It’s a process to let people know that we’re on their side.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) — a onetime engineer and former Senate chief of staff — replaced his former boss, Vice President Joseph Biden, last month and has no plans of running for a full term next year.

With no pressure to fundraise or press the flesh for endorsements, Kaufman has spent the week traveling through the First State to discuss the economic stimulus package with state and local lawmakers. He appeared at a news conference with Gov. Jack Markell (D) and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) on Wednesday.

Kaufman is continuing to focus on the stimulus package with stops in downstate Delaware on Thursday.

“With job loss spinning out of control, we needed to act — and I’m relieved that we did,” Kaufman told constituents at the joint press conference. “We have difficult choices, and a difficult road, ahead. But this plan, and stopping the hemorrhaging of our jobs, is an enormous first step.”