Gov. Paterson's Choice Opts To Finish Remarks Before Leaving Podium To Talk To New Commander-In-Chief...
U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand and New York Gov. David A. Paterson (right) stand together during a news conference announcing her as Paterson's choice to fill the vacant U.S. Senate seat for New York on Jan. 23, 2009, in Albany, New York.
Gillibrand, a relatively unknown, is 42 and the mother of two. She was surrounded by political poobahs from around the state, including Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, he himself a contender for the job, and Congressmen Gary Ackerman and Nita Lowey. She vowed to work hard to let New Yorkers get to know her.
"For many New Yorkers, this is the first time you've heard my name, and you don't know much about me," Gillibrand said. "Over the next two years you will get to know me, but much more importantly I will get to know you."
But as hard as she works, she will always have to wonder if she was actually Gov. Paterson's second choice. After all, until Wednesday almost everyone in the state expected the job to go to Kennedy. That episode ended badly. Kennedy suddenly withdrew her name citing personal issues. Team Paterson said it had to do with non-payment of taxes for nannies and there were whispers of marital strife.
"I think I picked the best candidate and I think I made a great choice," Paterson said.
For all the dysfunction of the event the governor never mentioned Kennedy, nor took questions about her. There were some high points -- President Barack Obama called in the middle of Gillibrand's speech.
Gillibrand finished her remarks before she went to the side of the stage to take the call.
"He said, 'I look forward to working with you,'" Gillibrand said.
Gillibrand's pro-gun stance hung over the event, but she said she was willing to work with people against gun violence.
"I'm going to be an advocate for hunter's rights, but there is so much area where there is common ground, where I can work together with really solving the problem of gun violence," Gillibrand said.
When she takes office on Sunday she will be 99th in seniority in the Senate.
Here's where Gillibrand stands on some key issues: She supports same-sex marriage, abortion rights and withdrawing troops from Iraq, but is against providing drivers licenses for illegal immigrants.
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