Oh sure, we all occasionally dream of a cushy, do-nothing job.
But many folks who venture into politics do so because they are pugnacious by nature. You don't become a political campaign staffer because your dream is a quiet life of conflict avoidance. You do it because you like the fight. You do it because you love to get into the trenches.
Where would Barney Frank be if he didn't have Republicans to beat up on? What would Bernie Sanders do with his time if he couldn't rile against the machine?
Consider the case of poor Sen. Gillibrand's staff. Just weeks from the election, her most formiddable opponent Republican Wendy Long aspires to breaking 25 percent in the polls. This would be because she's a crazy, awful woman, who owes what meager notoriety she has to parroting racist, sexist objections to Justice Sotomayor's confirmation on Fox News. Long is also currently fundraising with Laura Ingraham and Dinesh D'Souza, which really just says everything about her appeal and political instincts to negotiate deep blue New York.
The worst thing Gillibrand could do is to even acknowledge she has a challenger, something I don't think she's done since congratulating Long on winning the GOP nomination. Gillibrand generates more news picking up her morning coffee than Wendy Long has managed to generate all cycle.
Gillibrand also has a reputation as a ferocious and effective fundraiser dating way back to her House days. Some may find this unseemly, but alas, it is a highly necessary skill for a effective politician to possess.
So, what do you do with your campaign staff when you have enough money and no need to hit your opponent?
Picture it: Your boss has a 40 percent lead in the polls, so you and the rest of the campaign staff get to sit on your hands until November, right? Maybe work on your fantasy football team lines ups. Right?
"Not so fast" says, Senator Type-A, channeling RuPaul to the staff:"You better work!"
With just five weeks until her own re-election, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is in New York City today to fundraise — for other Democratic women.But that is only part of the story. Gillibrand's fundraising on behalf of other candidates this cycle topped $500,000 as of last month.
The money raised today at Gillibrand's $800-per-plate lunch will be split evenly among four female senate candidates — Nevada's Shelley Berkely, North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin, and Hawaii's Mazie Hirono. Gillibrand's campaign expects to raise $250,000 at the event, hosted at a law firm in midtown Manhattan, her spokesman, Glen Caplin, said.
(Continues after fold.)
New York magazine observes:
That Gillibrand is in a position to worry about candidates other than herself this fall is in itself remarkable. After becoming Governor David Paterson’s surprise, dead-of-night pick to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate when Caroline Kennedy’s candidacy collapsed, Gillibrand was frequently ridiculed as a lightweight upstater who kept two rifles under her bed. Election forecasts labeled her “vulnerable” as recently as this spring. Yet she clobbered her 2010 special election opponent by 35 points and is on the way to an even bigger rout next month.(My sources tell me there is no truth to the rumors Sen. Schumer has negotiated to appear on the cover of Details wearing Andrew Christian.)
The weakness of the state’s Republican party has something to do with those Gillibrand wins, but her capacity for hard work has been equally important. Gillibrand has also made some savvy choices. She’s championed issues that put her on the side of the angels (more health-care money for 9/11 victims, repealing "don’t ask, don’t tell") and endeared her to downstate liberals. Plus, Gillibrand has pulled off the nifty trick of raising her media profile without irritating Chuck Schumer — in part by seizing publicity opportunities not available to New York’s senior senator, like posing in Dolce & Gabbana for Vogue.
Gillibrand is not just attending luncheons, her staff too has been tasked to pulling in the funds on behalf of her Democratic colleagues. Talking Points Memo reported Sept. 28 how "Kirsten Gillibrand Leverages Her Donor List Against Todd Akin." It read: "I take remarks like Akin’s very personally. So I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he’s defeated."
They've created an entire site that revolves around Gillibrand's personal mission to get more women involved in politics, Off The Sidelines. In addition to stumping for Senate colleagues, the site serves as a clearing house for news of House candidates she's taken under her wing, including Val Demings, Tammy Duckworth, Christie Vilsack and Tulsi Gabbard. The site features fundraising pleas, but also personal stories and coaches women to get more involved, either as candidates, or volunteers, fundraisers and activists.
Her social media team, who are a model for modern politicians, have been tirelessly pushing out the word of Team Gillibrand™ endorsed candidates, like this share graphic that went viral on Facebook last week:
As of this weekend, I'm proud to have helped women candidates raise more than $500k this cycle w/the help of all of you! #offthesidelines— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) September 24, 2012
Consider some of what Gillibrand has done in just some of the very recent past:
- Went all out helping Kathy Hochul bring home an unlikely win in NY-25 race in May 2011
- Leaned on the New York state legislature to help Gov. Andrew Cuomo bring marriage equality to New York state
- Played a key roles in two of the proudest accomplishments of the 111th Congress, passing Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal and the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act
And now with this very impressive fundraising initiative, Gillibrand is fast distinguishing herself as a Democratic MVP.
There’s already been speculation about Gillibrand as a 2016 presidential contender; most likely she’ll spend that year trying to navigate the complicated space between Andrew Cuomo and Hillary Clinton.They go on to wonder if she's shooting for her colleague Chuck Schumer's old gig, heading the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee?
On that, Gillibrand spokesman Glen Caplin tells BuzzFeed, "no plans."
Regardless, this in my opinion is what safe players really should be doing—when they have the luxury—working your butt off to win one for whole the team. It's great if your own seat is safe, but what good can you do without allies, without real friends? (Answer: You can keep your seat warm and vote against the GOP's successful filibusters of every halfway decent bill.)
Let's back Gillibrand up in her efforts to deliver a serious estrogen shot to the 113th Congress. Daily Kos has raised over $45,000 for their slate of DK endorsed women, including Baldwin and Hirono. We're 148 short of our goal, but we can do it!