Monday, January 18, 2010

Ford: Gillibrand a 'Weak' Puppet

A couple of years ago an upstart black politician took on the establishment candidate and did remarkably well for himself. Well, at least until he was sworn in.

Fast forward two years and here we we have another upstart black politician gunning for the establishment candidate in New York and he's not as well received.

Funny how that is. But Harold Ford isn't daunted and is now upping the ante.
In his toughest comments to date, Harold Ford cast Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Monday as a "weak" puppet of the state's political establishment who has failed to connect with voters after a year in office.

"There is no doubt that Sen. Gillibrand is weak in many places across the city and the state," Ford told the Daily News in an interview. "At best, there is interest in hearing an alternative."

Ford, a former congressman from Tennessee, is mulling a Democratic primary challenge against Gillibrand and said he expects to make up his mind within the next 30 days.

But he insisted that what's driving his decision is not how much money he can raise or what politicians are behind him, but rather the complaints her hears from voters about government in general - and Gillibrand in particular.
New poll numbers suggest Gillibrand is vulnerable, although Ford hasn't exactly widened his profile with voters.

Ford certainly isn't off base claiming Gillibrand is a puppet.
Sen. Chuck Schumer is more than just a political mentor to Kirsten Gillibrand -- the powerhouse fund-raiser has been using his Midas touch to give the little-known senator's war chest a boost, The Post has learned.

The financial ties between the senators run deep, judging from a review of their campaign finance records, as well as interviews with donors.

* Nearly 150 of the 476 political action committees that are Schumer contributors also gave to Gillibrand, according to an analysis of 2009 data by The Post.

* Nearly 300 individual contributors of $200 or more to Schumer also opened their wallets for Gillibrand, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics at The Post's request.

* Schumer has personally lobbied big donors to "help" Gillibrand, who is regarded as vulnerable to a primary challenge.
Other Democrats see weakness with Chucky's puppet.
"I think she hasn't solidified herself yet," Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx), a Gillibrand backer, told The News. "It's hard being a junior senator to Chuck Schumer."

Indeed, the one thing voters do seem to know is that Schumer and the White House have been working some overtime to protect the politically anemic Gillibrand from a primary.

Now, even that seems unlikely. Largely because of Gillibrand's weakness, former Tennessee congressman Harold Ford - until last week a virtual unknown in New York - was able to parachute into the race and establish himself as a plausible, if longshot, possible challenger in a matter of days.

True, Gillibrand still beats Ford by a hefty 19 points, according to a Marist Poll released Friday. But for Gillibrand, the poll's more troubling number was her flimsy 24% approval rating among voters - and the 25% who had no opinion of her at all.
Instapundit links. Thanks!

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