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Gillibrand 2020? Obstacles Lay Ahead for the New York Senator

The successor to Hillary Clinton’s senate seat could be next Democratic presidential nominee…

Kirsten Gillibrand 2020

New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand could be Democrats’ choice to take on Donald Trump in 2020, but before she gets there, she will need to tame the demons within her party.

The Week took a look at Gillibrand’s background and flagged potential issues she may face in a Democratic primary:

Gillibrand started her career in a conservative district in New York, taking office in 2006 as part of the great Democratic wave. She had been a lawyer for Big Tobacco in her early career, and started out as a Blue Dog conservative, holding pro-gun, pro-austerity, and anti-immigration positions. 

She was thus thought to be a bad choice to fill Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat when Clinton was tapped to serve as secretary of state in 2009. But Gillibrand quickly moved left, reversing course on immigration and gun control, and helping kill Bill Clinton’s odious policy on gays in the military. She was easily elected in a 2010 special election and reelected properly in 2012.

The biggest issue facing Gillibrand, however, would be with the Bernie Sanders wing of the party – particularly if Sanders himself decides to run again. Gillibrand is seen as a Wall Street “advocate,” and to Democrats, that’s nearly a death sentence:

In 2010 she briefly suggested filing an amendment making it harder to regulate derivatives trading, though she later backed down after a backlash. In 2011, she complained that derivatives regulation would make U.S. banks uncompetitive. In 2013, she and five other Democratic senators wrote to then-Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew arguing essentially for an indefinite delay of regulations on cross-border derivative trading. As Reid Pilfant wrote in 2012, she has “quietly overcome considerable skepticism about her on Wall Street to become a go-to advocate for the financial services industry in her own right.”

Just ask Hillary Clinton how well her cozy relationship with Wall Street played out for her among Democrats and independents. Gillibrand, who is married to a banker, could be the embodiment of history repeating.