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Gillibrand Picks Up Key Support From Democratic Boss Lopez

April 5, 2010

The New York Times had this little story this morning:

Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York on Monday picked up the endorsement of an influential Democratic Party leader who has tacitly encouraged a primary challenge against her over the last few months.

The move by Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez, the Kings County Democratic Party chairman, underscored the striking change in political fortunes for Ms. Gillibrand, who was appointed to replaceHillary Rodham Clinton in January 2009.

Ms. Gillibrand, a former congresswoman who has had weak poll numbers since becoming a senator, has faced the possibility of challenges from a long list of would-be candidates within her own party, including the Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer; Representative Steve Israel of Long Island; Representative Carolyn B. Maloney of Manhattan; and former RepresentativeHarold E. Ford Jr. of Tennessee.

Mr. Lopez spent months meeting her potential rivals, leaving open the possibility that he would deprive Ms. Gillibrand the support of the biggest Democratic organization in the state.

But with all her potential Democratic rivals having opted out of the race over the the past few months, Mr. Lopez clearly felt he had no choice but to throw his support to Ms. Gillibrand, who has never run a statewide campaign before.

“Senator Gillibrand has worked hard over the past year to spend time in every part of the state, listen to the people of New York, and respond to their concerns,” Mr. Lopez said in a statement. “I am pleased to endorse her.’’

In a statement, Ms. Gillibrand praised Mr. Lopez. “I value his insight and respect his tireless commitment to the people he represents,” she said.

At this point, Ms. Gillibrand has only token Republican opposition: Bruce A. Blakeman, who dropped out of the New York mayoral race last year; David Malpass, a former economist at Bear Stearns who worked in the Reagan administration; and Joseph J. DioGuardi, a former member of the House.

Additionally, The Daily Politics blog had this today:

Brooklyn Democratic Party Chairman Vito Lopez, who just last week was lamenting about how “frustrating” it has been to be courted by would-be primary challengers to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand only to see them take a pass on the race, has finally given in and backed the junior senator.

His statement, distributed by the Gillibrand campaign this morning, is serviceable, but not exactly what one might call effusive.

“Senator Gillibrand has worked hard over the past year to spend time in every part of the state, listen to the people of New York, and respond to their concerns,” said Lopez, who is also an assemblyman.”I am pleased to endorse her. On issues impacting seniors, the creation and preservation of affordable housing, health care, and providing necessary social services to the people of New York, Senator Gillibrand is working to support our efforts at the state level to improve lives for all New Yorkers.”

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Lopez is no stranger to the discussion on this blog, as you know.

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