Dems to N.Y. party head: Hold off backing Gillibrand

A group of 10 House Democrats has warned the New York Democratic Party chairwoman to hold off sending money to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) reelection campaign until after the 2010 state convention.

The group's highly unusual letter seeks to remind chairwoman June O'Neill that party rules permit equal access for any candidate for the seat before convention-goers meet to designate a party-backed candidate.

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"Until a designee is chosen by the State Committee, we know we can count on you to ensure that the designating process is fair and resources are not improperly allocated," the members wrote.

"Some of the cosigners of this letter may support Sen. Gillibrand. Some are considering running for the seat. Others remain undecided," the representatives wrote. "However, each of us wants a Democrat to win in a process that is fair, open and inclusive."

Gillibrand, appointed by Gov. David Paterson (D) to fill Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's vacant seat, caused an uproar among several Empire State Democratic constituencies, especially those who had hoped for an appointee out of New York City and one who backed stricter gun control regulations than Gillibrand does.

Among those signing the letter were New York Reps. Carolyn McCarthy, Carolyn Maloney and Steve Israel, three Democrats who had been considered candidates for the appointment and who have all said they will consider challenging Gillibrand in a primary.

Also signing the letter were Reps. Jose Serrano, Yvette Clark, Nydia Velazquez and Jerry Nadler, who represent districts in New York City, along with Rep. Tim Bishop, who represents a Long Island district, and Reps. Eric Massa and Maurice Hinchey, who represent upstate districts.

Spokespeople for several signers declined to comment on the perception that politics may be central to the move. "This is really just openness that we're seeking," said Jared Smith, an aide to Massa.