Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has held a Labor Day barbecue every year since she was elected to the House in 2006.
The barbecue is largely a thank-you event for people in the former NY-20 who have supported her for eight years or so, through two House and two Senate campaigns. The ticket price is reasonable, and the barbecue features locally sourced food and drink, which is fitting for possibly the only New York politician who has sat on the House Agriculture Committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee.
The barbecue used to be held at her home; last year and this, it's been at a farm in Columbia County.
The food and drink are always tasty, with all of it coming from nearby producers.
It's a small event, about 100 people Saturday, and Gillibrand takes the time to chat and pose for photos with everyone.
But the highlight is her talking about current politics and issues, and answering questions from her longtime supporters.
Much more, below.
To get a sense of the personal scale of the event, check out Bettyann Johnsen's photos, one of which shows an ingenious bicycle-powered smoothie blender.
I was not recording or taking notes, but here's a best recollection of some of what Gillibrand talked about.
First, she said not much was happening in Washington, mostly because the House Republicans were not interested in supporting any bills that might do any good, and therefore pass the Senate and get signed into law.
The event was actually a fundraiser for Gillibrand's Off the Sidelines PAC, which supports women candidates for federal offices. So my question was who are her favorite non-incumbent women running for Senate this year.
She started her answer by talking about her colleagues in competitive races -- Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, and Kay Hagan in North Carolina -- noting that defending those seats was vital to retaining the Senate majority.
Gillibrand then spoke knowingly about three promising non-incumbents -- Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky (which sparked spontaneous applause, because everyone knew who she was trying to unseat), Michelle Nunn in Georgia, and Natalie Tennant in West Virginia.
And, not to leave the boys out, Gillibrand mentioned the three Marks -- Pryor in Arkansas, Warner in Virginia, and Begich in Alaska -- incumbents in red/purple states whose re-election is also vital this year.
While she naturally has an interest in preserving the Senate majority, Gillibrand said that her PAC is also supporting several House candidates, and made a strong case for one in particular -- Sean Eldridge, who is challenging faux-moderate Chris Gibson in NY-19, which includes most of her former House district.
She said Gibson may come across as a nice guy, but his voting record (generally, if not always) shows that he is out of touch with his district on most economic, environmental and social issues.
Implying that "nice guys" who vote most of the time for tea-party-extremist legislation are not all that nice for their constituents.
Someone who knew that her political biography/encouragement of women in politics "Off the Sidelines" would hit the bookstores in early September asked if she had any book recommendations.
Gillibrand said some very complimentary things about Hillary Clinton's and Elizabeth Warren's books, but noted that her book was different, with its focus on getting women off the sidelines and into the game of electoral politics, where they have been shamefully under-represented since forever.
Excerpts of "Off the Sidelines" -- the ones about sexual harassmentish comments about her body by male Congressional colleagues -- got quite a bit of press last week.
That may well help sell books, which is good because here's what it's really about, according to Gloria Steinem:
What do you get when a woman is the third generation of fierce, kindhearted, and brilliant political activists? You get Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who writes irresistibly, helps in real-life terms, and uses her clout to get more women elected. "Off the Sidelines" is one of the most helpful, readable, down-to-earth, and truly democratic books ever to come out of the halls of powerGillibrand will be doing a book tour this fall. If you go to see her, you will not be disappointed, guaranteed.
Places/dates/times I could find on the Google:
Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, DC, Sept. 10, 7 p.m.
Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco, Sept. 13, noon.
Belmont University's McAfee Concert Hall (with Connie Britton), Nashville, Sept. 20.
NYS Writers Institute in Albany, Sept. 27, 4 p.m.