PIX News was the first to sit down with Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy immediately after Friday's press conference in Albany where the governor appointed Gillibrand to junior Senator of New York. Watch her reaction to the news.
Governor Paterson, who is known to have changed his mind on issues last minute, listened to arguments until somewhere around 10 p.m. Thursday, according to one source, then began placing calls to candidates who he decided not to select. Among them Congressman Steve Israel, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
One legislative leader told PIX News it was apparent to him that Gillibrand was his choice when the Governor announced that he would hold a news conference in Albany. He noted that before Caroline Kennedy withdrew her name from consideration, the Governor was scheduling an announcement from his New York City Office on Saturday.
One leading Democratic member of Congress, who asked not to be identified, told PIX News there are a number of issues that have left many of Gillibrand colleagues at odds with her. For one, she was one of the few holdouts to vote against the financial bailout for banking institutions, many of them located in New York State. But the big dispute the left wing of the party has with her is her conservative stance on issues and her support of gun rights. Even during her appearance with the Governor, Gillerbrand pledged to work to keep guns out of the hands of children and said she would promote other legislation against gun violence while at the same time she vowed to "protect hunters' rights."
It is that very position that helped the 42-year-old mother of two to defeat veteran Congressman John Sweeney in a heavily Republican district. She handily won re-election to a second term for which she had raised $4 million. Though the Governor said his choice was not based on gender or geographical location, political insiders say those factors will be an asset to the Governor when he seeks election next year. In her remarks, Gillerbrand laid out a robust agenda.
One Congressman said "she's got some convincing to do" but feels she is qualified to do the job. However, it's his belief that while the Democrats get to retain a key seat in the Senate, they may lose one in the House. He noted, "the pro NRA voters are her constituents," and observed that it may be difficult to find a Democratic candidate with the same position. That is likely to open the door in next fall's special election for the candidacy of Sandy Treadwell, the former New York Republican chairman, who Gillibrand easily defeated in the last election.