Struggling to fundraise and lagging in the polls, New York U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand suspended her 2020 presidential campaign Wednesday evening. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports on reaction from leaders in New York politics.
Senator Gillibrand announced herself as a Democratic presidential hopeful to a national audience in January on the “Late Show” with Stephen Colbert.
The next day, New York’s junior senator took her message to a diner in Brunswick near her home in Rensselaer County.
“I’m going to run for president of the United States because as a young mom I’m going to fight for your children as hard as I would fight for my own,” said Gillibrand.
The 52-year-old Gillibrand joined the field of 2020 hopefuls seeking to take down President Donald Trump just a few months after she was elected to a new six-year term. She would spend the next eight months trekking to early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire.
She closed her run Wednesday with a campaign video as it became clear she would be left out of the next debates.
I know this isn’t the result we wanted. We wanted to win this race. But it's important to know when it's not your time and to know how you can best serve your community and country. I believe I can best serve by helping to unite us to beat Donald Trump in 2020."
From the start of her campaign, Gillibrand attacked Trump as a divider – a person who seeks to tear the country apart along racial and political lines.
Trump appeared to mock Gillibrand on Twitter following her exit, saying:
“A sad day for the Democrats, Kirsten Gillibrand has dropped out of the Presidential Primary. I’m glad they never found out that she was the one I was really afraid of!”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, commented on Gillibrand’s exit in a statement Wednesday night. He said:
"Senator Gillibrand is a great talent, a rising star in the Democratic Party and a good friend. The people of New York are fortunate to have her back full time."
Speaking Thursday morning with WAMC’s Alan Chartock, Cuomo, who said he was fond of Gillibrand personally, denied having any ill-will for the Senator after saying she no longer has to “walk around the cornfields of Iowa.”
“There’s nothing backhanded here. She was running for president. She is now not running for president, so her sole focus will be representing the people of the State of New York.”
Gillibrand’s Senate colleague, Minority Leader Charles Schumer, also weighed in Thursday. Speaking to reporters in Morrisonville, near Plattsburgh, Schumer said he was glad he and Gillibrand will continue to work together.
“We are a good team and we work hard for New York, including New York agriculture. She ran a good race. She moved issues, particularly on women’s rights, that she cares a lot about. So I don’t think the race was for naught,” said Schumer.
In a statement that also took aim at fellow New Yorker and presidential candidate New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York Republican Party Chair Nick Langworthy attacked Gillibrand, saying she “has been using her U.S. Senate office to chase her national ambitions for the last four years, while doing nothing for the New Yorkers who pay her salary. It’s no surprise that voters — even in her home state — rejected her for her lackluster record.”