There may be some liberal Democrats upset with N.Y. Gov. David Patterson's decision to appoint Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton's Senate seat, but Rep. Peter Welch is clearly not one of them.
Welch was in town Friday to talk about how the federal stimulus package will shore up the state's beleaguered unemployment fund, and was overflowing with praise for Gillibrand, who joined the House the same year Welch did.
"She's sincere, incredibly energetic and politically savvy," Welch said. "She's also had tremendous success at fundraising, which is of course also very important." He called her a "very good member of Congress" during her two years in the House.
Gillibrand's selection, which was announced Friday, came hours after Caroline Kennedy withdrew her name from consideration and, apparently, somebody close to Patterson bad-mouthed Kennedy about the real reasons for her pullout to several New York political reporters -- off the record of course. Weird.
The reason some Democrats are bent out of shape about Gillibrand is that she lacks the credentials and name recognition of some of the other prospects for the seat (like state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo). Gillibrand is from the Albany area, she's pro-gun, no fan of gay marriage and voted against the federal opposed the federal TARP program to rescue banks. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is known to be no fan of Gillibrand.
Welch told reporters the fact Gillibrand was able to win in a traditionally Rebublican district -- twice -- in heavy-duty contests will make her a formidable candidate when she runs for the Senate seat outright in 2010. Maybe that's why Patterson picked her.
Anyone out there with opinions on the Gillibrand selection?
I thought so.
-- Sam Hemingway