Gov. David Paterson made a good choice by picking Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton in the U.S. Senate. With most of the state’s major seats now represented by New York City residents — the governor, both legislative majority leaders, the attorney general and our other U.S. senator — having the upstate half of New York represented in some major way is of critical importance.
Although Rep. Gillibrand is generally well liked by Democrats, she will be an independent voice, as shown by her two votes against the $700 billion bailout bills. She is also a strong supporter of family farms at the expense of overbloated factory farm subsidies, and she’s associated with the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats.
She is smart, hard working and hard nosed, and although she’ll probably work well with Sen. Charles Schumer — who also has a good understanding of upstate and rural issues — she won’t necessarily vote with him every time.
As for the hopefuls who didn’t get the Senate job, it’s good to see Andrew Cuomo continue as attorney general — he’s doing a good job. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, of New York City, also might have made a good senator, but Caroline Kennedy was dangerously underqualified for the post. Hopefully she will follow up on her desire to get involved with government—her “family business,” as Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman put it — but she will have to learn the hard way, as other politicians do, that you have to go through the public to serve the public. Now comes the important task of filling Gillibrand’s spot in Congress, and hopefully the North Country gets a representative who understands and fights for the needs of this region just as hard as she did.