In two short years, Kirsten Gillibrand has gone from dark horse to Washington power player.
Even crowned the “hottest member” by Senate majority leader Harry Reid, Gillibrand has political watchers cooing — a far stretch from her 2009 appointment. Tomorrow marks the two-year anniversary of her swearing in to the United States Senate.
Gillibrand was hastily selected after Caroline Kennedy’s flirtation with Hillary Clinton’s open seat ended abruptly. Now, she’s credited for major successes like the 9/11 health bill and her part in getting “don’t ask, don’t tell” repealed last month.
Changing from representing an upstate district to the entire state allowed her to build on “the proactive outspoken champion that she’s always wanted to be” on gay rights, said Ross Levi, Empire State Pride Agenda’s executive director.
Carefully choosing issues both visible and popular — like the 9/11 bill — she gained kudos while also getting media savvy, Birdsell said: “She is a much better performer in front of the camera.”
Recently, she became a national figure, witnessing gunshot victim Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords opening her eyes.
A Gillibrand spokesman declined to discuss the past, saying they’re focused on the future — this year, tackling the economy.
Gay rights advocate Sean Eldridge said he’s thrilled with her star-power support, like vowing last week on “The View” to legalize gay marriage.
“We’ve been surprised by how central she’s made these issues,” he said.