Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. is a prolific pen pal.
The Empire State's junior senator has sent emails to her supporters at a copious clip in the past month — sending a total of four messages just this week. Democratic operatives who monitor campaign email traffic say Gillibrand's operation emails supporters more often than almost anyone else in the Senate.
“Outside of leadership, probably yes," said one Democratic digital consultant, who added that the senator might send more messages than the president's campaign operation.
Why the inbox barrage? It's not because she has a tough re-election anytime soon. Gillibrand won't face another Senate race until 2018 and she's a strong fundraiser, pulling in $15 million for her 2012 re-election, a contest she won by 45 points.
Privately, some Democrats speculate she is building her email list in preparation for a national campaign — especially if Hillary Rodham Clinton opts against a 2016 presidential run. No doubt the active emails will only grow Gillibrand's political action committee, "Off the Sidelines," which aims to get women involved in politics.
But other Democrats argue that this is a low-profile way for her to carve out her own political identity, away from Sen Charles E. Schumer of New York, an outsized personality and the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate. Some insist she is just doing diligent upkeep of one of a politicians' most prized asset, his or her email address list.
"It’s, in general, a way of engaging your list and keeping it alive," the Democratic strategist said of her outreach. "People will forget they signed up and feel like they don’t have a relationship with you."
Regardless of her reasons, Gillibrand is working to cultivate those relationship. She signs her messages "Kirsten" and most of the subject lines are written in friendly lower-case.
Gillibrand's campaign team did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But here's a taste of the wide range of emails her campaign sent in the past month:
- March 19, subject line: "no one" Gillibrand asked supporters to sign a petition to ask Congress to put an end to military sexual assault.
- March 27: "why I am writing" Gillibrand solicited donations for Senate Democrats' three most endangered female members, Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and her "Off The Sidelines" PAC.
- March 30: "papers" Gillibrand asks for a last-minute donation to Off The Sidelines before the quarterly March 31 deadline.
- April 2: "Breaking News: Sanford"
- Gillibrand went for the jugular when asking her supporters to donate to South Carolina special election Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch. "This is the same Mark Sanford who, as governor, disappeared from office and used taxpayer money to visit his mistress," Gillibrand wrote.
- April 5 : "Scott Brown" Gillibrand encouraged supporters to donate to Shaheen after the news that former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass. had not ruled out running for New Hampshire Senate in 2014.
- April 6 : "filibuster" Gillibrand urged supporters to sign a petition against the gun-rights "filibuster caucus" of Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah.
- April 8 : "Equal Pay Chat Tomorrow" Stefanie Conahan of Gillibrand for Senate sent "a reminder" to participate in a web chat in honor of Equal Pay Day. The chat included Gillibrand and Rep. Terri A. Sewell, D-Ala.
- April 9 : "join me at 3:45 p.m. ET" Gillibrand sent a second reminder about the Equal Pay Day web chat.
- April 11 : "filibuster caucus" Gillibrand asked supporters to sign a petition against the anti-gun control Republican senators. This time, though, the petition link also includes a Gillibrand appearance on "Morning Joe."
- April 11 : "Fwd: filibuster caucus" Gillibrand sent a follow up email crowing about breaking the filibuster. Again, she linked to the petition page with the "Morning Joe" appearance.