Q&A #1: Kristen Gillibrand

"Bruce" asks:

Are you as surprised as I was to read about Kirsten Gillibrand being picked by NY Gov. Paterson to take Hillary's senate seat?

I was surprised that he didn't pick Caroline Kennedy, but given that he didn't, no I wasn't surprised. Paterson's a smart cookie, and Gillibrand was the smart choice for him, for at least 4.7 million reasons -- that's how much she raised last year, a stunning figure (11th among all House candidates, according to Congressional Quarterly).

Paterson's top two considerations were: who can win and hold the seat in 2010; and who helps me win in 2010. Not necesarily in that order.

Gillibrand, a centrist, female, upstate Democrat who can raise truckloads of cash, is a perfect statewide candidate. Yes, liberals will be pissed, and yes, she'll get challenged in the primary, but she'll beat that back, in large part because she'll be unbeatable in the general.

Meanwhile, Paterson in one swoop wins himself the love and support of at least three key groups that he needs for 2010: women, upstaters, and a huge network of Gillibrand's wealthy donors. Not necessarily in that order.

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