Who is Kirsten Gillibrand? 5 facts about the NY senator who is getting more progressive by the day

personaldemocracy / Flickr Senator Kirsten Gillibrand 2...
personaldemocracy / Flickr

Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democratic senator from New York, has officially launched her bid for the 2020 presidency. This isn’t too surprising, as the senator’s exploratory committee made headlines a few months ago. The senator has a considerable career in politics, with experience in both the House and Senate.

Interestingly, she’s gone from being a moderate (if not conservative) Democrat to being pretty solidly on the left. Will voters hold her past views against her, or find her gradual progression relatable?

Either way, at this point, she isn’t being coy about wanting to topple Trump. For example, as she announced her candidacy, she noted that she’ll hold a rally outside of the Trump International Hotel and Trump Tower in New York City on March 24.

Let’s look at five points about the senator you might not already know. Her campaign announcement is embedded at the bottom of this post, too.

1. She references Trump pretty directly in her campaign video

In her video (embedded below) announcing her candidacy, the senator says:

“We need to remember what it feels like to be brave. We launched ourselves into space and landed on the moon. If we can do that, we can definitely achieve universal health care, we can provide paid family leave for all, end gun violence, pass a Green New Deal, get money out of politics, and take back our democracy.”

Yeah, she’s not holding back.

2. She talks about motherhood with pride

Gillibrand doesn’t shy away from being a mom. In fact, she pretty much integrated into it her core identity as a candidate. In her campaign speech, she promises to “fight for your children as hard as I would fight for my own.” When she’s discussed national issues, for example, like immigration, she makes it personal, discussing how she would feel if her own family were separated. Unsurprisingly, she’s also a big advocate for paid leave and accessible and affordable childcare. 

3. She followed up none other than Hillary Clinton in the Senate

The senator was appointed to the U.S. Senate after Hillary Clinton left her seat for the Obama administration, back in 2009. After that, she won a special election for the seat, during which she beat out Joe DioGuardi, a Republican. She’s since been reelected. Before joining the Senate, she was a member of the House from 2007 to 2009.

4. She called on Al Franken to resign

Former Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota resigned during an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations. To be brief: Franken faced eight accusations of misconduct, including a photo of him grinning while holding his hands over Leeann Tweeden’s breasts as she slept during a flight home from Afghanistan (for which he later apologized), as well as stories from other women who alleged that he’d kissed or groped them. He claimed he didn’t remember these instances.

Gillibrand, who has long run on a platform of women’s rights and being an advocate for survivors, explicitly called for him to resign. Her point, basically, was that she put her personal values above party loyalty. She said she’d “stand up for what I believe in, especially when it’s hard.”

There are rumors that some people, including both voters and wealthy donors, have soured against her over this point, but she doesn’t seem to be concerned.

5. She’s moving further left on key issues

Over the years, Gillibrand has moved from moderate to left on some extremely important issues. While she was in the House, for example, she received an A rating from the NRA, but now is adamant about wanting gun control legislation. Surprising no one, she now has an F rating from the NRA. Her views on same-sex marriage shifted left early into her Senate career.

Recently? She was the first sitting senator to call to abolish ICE. She’s also changed positions when it comes to offering licenses to undocumented immigrants, a huge step forward from a decade ago, when her policies were…anti-immigrant, to put it lightly.

Here is her campaign launch video:

Want to learn more about other presidential hopefuls? Read up on Pete Buttigieg next.

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Tango Yankee
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Tango Yankee

The bit about Al Franken makes all the other points irrelevant.