New York: Obama Sets Off Wave of Gillibrand Support

Posted May 20, 2009 at 6:28pm

President Barack Obama’s decision to intervene last week in the 2010 special Senate election has quickly altered the political terrain in the Empire State.

Not only have potential Democratic Senate candidates such as Rep. Steve Israel and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer announced their intention not to run in recent days, but appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has racked up several endorsements from House Members and other key political players since Obama signaled that he did not want to see a bloody Democratic primary.

On Wednesday alone, she was endorsed by upstate Democratic Reps. Michael Arcuri, John Hall and Scott Murphy, and by Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, the county leader in Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s (D) backyard. McCarthy is openly weighing a primary challenge to Gillibrand.

Perhaps most significantly, state Assemblyman Peter Rivera (D), who led a group of Latino lawmakers that harshly criticized Gillibrand’s appointment in late January, offered his endorsement Wednesday.

“I know that this may seem like an early endorsement, but I believe Sen. Gillibrand has demonstrated the seriousness and compassion that New Yorkers expect from their United States Senators,— Rivera said in a statement.

Despite Obama’s intervention, McCarthy and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, have not ruled out running against Gillibrand, and Suffolk County Legislator Jon Cooper (D) upgraded his campaign Web site this week as he pursues an exploratory bid. In a sign that he continues to take his potential candidacy seriously, Cooper is scheduled to march in a Haitian parade in central Brooklyn on Sunday — a long way, physically and spiritually, from his Long Island district.

Gillibrand is scheduled to hold a series of town hall meetings on the economy in two upstate counties this weekend and will speak at a Memorial Day ceremony at the Intrepid Museum in midtown Manhattan.

Maloney, by contrast, has no public events scheduled this weekend, according to her office, though she has reaped plenty of publicity recently as the chief House sponsor of a bill reforming the credit card industry.