Obama convinces Rep. Israel to back off Senate challenge

President Obama convinced Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) late this week not to challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in a 2010 Senate primary, Fox News reports.

Just days ago, all signs pointed toward Israel announcing his candidacy. But at the urging of Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), Obama reportedly placed a call to Israel on Friday asking him to back out. Democrats are hoping desperately to reach a 60-seat supermajority with the seating of Al Franken after his disputed Senate election. A bruising primary challenge in New York could weaken whatever Democrat emerges into the general election.

Gov. David Paterson (D-N.Y.) angered many Democrats when he appointed Gillibrand to Hillary Clinton's vacant seat. Many considered Gillibrand, an upstate Congresswoman who had just been elected to her second term, too inexperienced and too conservative to represent the entire state. (Gillibrand has sided with the NRA on gun control issues.)

"This is a tough, heartfelt decision for me," Israel said in a statement. "I have received encouragement to pursue this fight from all corners of our great state."

At least some New York Democrats were upset at Obama's intervention. Fox reports:
It's rare for a president to inject himself into statewide politics. And a host of New York political insiders with ties to several House Democrats say they're angry that the president even got involved.

"What? You can't have a primary? It's decided in backroom deals?" asked a source who spoke to FOX News on the condition of anonymity. "What if someone told Obama he couldn't have a primary and Hillary (Clinton) would just be the nominee? Where would he be? It's an outrage."

Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y) have both suggested they might jump in the race.

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