Gillibrand raises $2.3 million in two months

Facing the prospect of a tough primary in 2010, appointed Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Suburban moms are going to decide the 2020 election MORE (D-N.Y.) is doing her best to discourage any and all comers, and she’s got the bankroll to prove it.

Gillibrand announced in an e-mail to supporters Monday that she raised more than $2.3 million in the two months since she was appointed to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s former Senate seat.

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The number is one of the biggest quarters turned in by any Senate candidate in recent election cycles and serves notice that taking on Gillibrand will not be cheap — or easy.

“Our journey has just begun, and I thank you for committing to support my campaign,” Gillibrand wrote. “Focused around our shared progressive values, we will build the best-run grassroots movement New York has ever seen and be a shining example that ideas and passion can trump stale political attacks and cynicism.”

A Quinnipiac poll also released Monday shows the very reason Gillibrand is trumpeting her money. She continues to trail Rep. Carolyn McCarthyCarolyn McCarthyWhy Congress needs an openly atheist member, now Lobbying World Lobbying world MORE (D-N.Y.) in a primary, 33-29. The gap has shrunk since mid-February, but trailing a member of Congress unknown to more than two-thirds of primary voters is reason enough for consternation.

McCarthy and other members of the state’s House delegation have knocked Gillibrand from the moment she was appointed. They have said she is too conservative on guns, illegal immigration and economic issues, and there has been some grumbling about the Senate appointment that veteran lawmakers were passed over for the young Gillibrand.

Gillibrand’s ties to the business community allowed her to raise big money and get elected to a conservative-leaning House district in 2006. Last cycle, she ranked in the top five in the House in money raised for a reelection campaign.

Since ascending to the Senate, she has tacked notably more liberal, nodding to her new constituency and her primary vulnerability.

Other Democrats considered possible primary opponents include New York Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Steve Israel and Jerrold Nadler.