Gillibrand Does a Victory Lap
The junior senator from New York talks with Lloyd Grove about her successful preemptive drubbing of Harold Ford, sounding about as giddy as it’s possible for her to sound.
The political press treated the 39-year-old Ford’s withdrawal as big news, but the 43-year-old native New Yorker saw it as a foregone conclusion. “Every candidate makes their own decision about whether to run and whether they can win,” Gillibrand said, “but I don’t think he had a path to victory.”
As the final Marist poll in the race suggested, Gillibrand’s newly aggressive media strategy and Ford’s clueless, bumbling pre-campaign were on their way to producing a landslide for the incumbent. What’s the difference between Gillibrand, Ford and, say, the disastrous Martha Coakley? I’d say it’s that the latter two politicians were products of dominant Democratic machines which don’t do much to challenge and vet their rising stars. Ford’s father basically bequeathed him a House seat in heavily Democratic Memphis. Coakley rose up through the Middlesex and Massachusetts machines, the latest of many successful Democratic attorneys who’ve trod that path. By contrast, Gillibrand came out of the more competitive politics of the New York suburbs and exurbs, where the Republican Party — and Republican machines — still dominate. It really shouldn’t surprise anyone that she’s become an excellent politician, even if she’s subpar at forming soundbites and winning news cycles.