Asked about Kirsten Gillibrand's upcoming race, the Senate Democratic campaign director says he doesn't see one
10:55 am Apr. 6, 20121
In the race to unseat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Republican Representative Bob Turner is touting his business background and moment as a Republican hero, Wendy Long is pushing herself as a strong conservative woman with ties to some deep-pocketed donors, and George Maragos is promising to invest $5 million up front.
None of that scares national Democrats very much.
"I don't think it's going to be much of a race," Guy Cecil, the executive director of the national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told me yesterday.
Her Republican challengers have continued to insist Gillibrand is "vulnerable," even in the face of polls like the one released by Quinnipiac yesterday, which showed her with a 60 percent favorability rating, and beating each of the prospective opponents by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.
"For someone that sort of came in completely unknown and to not only survive, but to thrive under that circumstance, I think it's pretty impressive," Cecil said. "And she's a very hard worker."
Cecil, who worked at the DSCC during Chuck Schumer's successful run in charge and worked on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, pointed to the end of the last session, shortly after Gillibrand trounced an underfunded opponent in her first statewide election, when she helped pass the 9/11 health care bill, and the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell during the lame-duck congressional session.
"I have not seen anybody improve her stock the way she has over the last two years, particularly at the end of the cycle," he said.
Nationally, Democrats are trying to protect the big gains they made in 2006, when Schumer helmed the DSCC and helped capture Senate seats in some traditionally Republican-leaning states, like Montana, Virginia and Missouri.
With Gillibrand currently coasting—sitting on $9.1 million in cash on hand, and no one yet gaining on her in the polls—national Democrats will be spending their time and money elsewhere.
"Let's put it this way, if we're talking about the race in New York in five months, I've got bigger problems," Cecil said.