Netroots Skeptical of Gillibrand Pick

Liberal bloggers, who backed Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) when she first ran for the House in 2006, have voiced some disappointment over her selection to the Senate.

Howie Klein, head of the Blue America political action committee that raises money for liberal candidates online, said that it was "wrongheaded" for Gov. David Paterson (D-N.Y.) to appoint Gillibrand, a centrist candidate, to a Senate seat in a staunchly Democratic state. Gillibrand has a 100 percent rating from the National Rifle Association and is a member of the Blue Dog coalition of centrist Democrats, Klein noted.

Klein, whose PAC helped fund Gillibrand's 2006 campaign, also said that Paterson chose someone based on political considerations instead of picking the best person for the state.

"If that were the case, I think he would have given more consideration to Jerry Nadler," the House Democrat from Manhattan, said Klein, who blogs at Down With Tyranny! Instead, Paterson "picked someone who think is second- or third-rate, looking for some balance, who would help him in own reelection."

Paterson is up for reelection in 2010, when Gillibrand's interim Senate term will also end.

Jane Hamsher, founder of the liberal blog Firedoglake and another Blue America member, noted that Gillibrand won the PAC's endorsement despite a running with "pretty conservative frame" because "we felt her heart was in the right place."

Hamsher, however, has hopes she'll be more responsive to the left in the Senate than she was in the House.

"She took some votes that I didn't like but I hope, like many do, that she'll move to a more progressive position now that she's not tied to her district," she said.

In addition to her opposition to gun control measures, Gillibrand backed an illegal immigration bill sponsored by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), a Blue Dog who has harshly criticized the influx of illegal aliens. The bill won some support from Republicans but was greeted with ambivalence by Democratic leaders.

Hamsher said that Gillibrand will have incentive to move to her left to avoid possible primary challenges by more liberal New York Reps. Carolyn McCarthy and Carolyn Maloney.

Daily Kos blogger Arjun Jaikumar believes he saw an auspicious sign for liberals in Gillibrand's decision to support of gay marriage rights, announced on the eve of her Senate appointment.

"If she does tack to the left in the Senate, I think she's got a terrific future," said Jaikumar, noting that she's young at the age of 42, has won praise from both Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and has run two strong House campaigns already.

"So if she can consolidate support in her own state party -- and become the kind of Democrat New Yorkers are accustomed to sending to the Senate -- I think her political talent can take her a long way," he said.

More in Energy & Environment

McConnell has new argument for EPA climate rule

Read more »