Record is that her claims to be a conservative are based mainly on her pro-gun lobby posturing, voting against the Bailout, although some Liberals voted against it too and some conservatives voted for it, and considering what's come of it, voting against it has turned out to be the right thing to have done, and talking a lot about balanced budgets . Otherwise, it strikes me that her vote for the Lily Ledbetter Act is more indicative of her politics.
Gut reaction here is that by appointing her Governor Paterson has given the Republicans their best shot at pulling off a hat trick in 2010. Her upstate appeal is there, but limited. Democrats in Albany will embrace her as one of their own, but Democrats in Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo, while they might be mildly flattered that Paterson picked an upstater, aren't going to knock each other down in their rush to the polls to vote for someone from the sticks far off to their east and I can't see many upstate Republicans and Independents being all that excited just because, gosh and golly, she's an upstater too, just like us. Besides, if Paterson's own poll numbers upstate keep sinking, whatever upstate conservative support she might bring to the ticket, he loses for her. Then she has no base of support in New York City, Other Democrats are already talking about a primary challenge which would only be good for the Party if she loses, because if she bears a grudge afterwards there's not much she can do to sabotage the winner, but whoever loses to her will likely be a downstate machine pol who can deny her votes and money and positive press and down there they enjoy bearing grudges. Our old pal Chris the Cop wondered how I could possibly think choosing Caroline Kennedy would be a good idea---this was before Kennedy showed that she was just not up to the pressures of running for office, and, yes, that's a deliberate understatement---and my answer at the time was that she was the choice least likely to have Democrats at each other's throats come 2010. She was also the choice Michael Bloomberg was least likely to challenge if he was to decide it might be more fun to be a Senator instead of Mayor for Life. Meanwhile, back in her largely rural, longtime Republican district: Gillibrand won in 2006 because her incumbent opponent turned out to be a drunken wife-beater. Her re-election victory in 2008 was solid but then she was the incumbent and it was a Democratic year, advantages her would-be Democratic successor won't have. The Republicans could pick up her House seat, her Senate seat, and the governor's mansion. Not saying that's going to happen. Or that it's likely. Just that she looks to me like the weakest choice Paterson could have made. Seems that in 2010 both Paterson and Gillibrand will need Chuck Schumer and Andrew Cuomo to have long and strong coattails. I'm assuming that Cuomo bears no grudges for being passed over and doesn't challenge Paterson in a primary.
Fact is I don't know enough about what I'm talking about to talk any more about it. I'll work on that and get back to you.
By the way, blogger and commenter CaliDem called it for Gillibrand way back when.
Updated, officially: Because it's official. Gillibrand's our new senator.
Pop Mannion, who's actually tied into politics up that way, told me this morning that he thinks she'll work out all right. He thinks she's not as conservative as she has to let on and she'll move left once she's representing the whole state instead of that one district. He's worried about losing that district, too, but the odds are that it'll be lost anyway after the next re-districting.
That was Julia's take too, in an email exchange we had this morning. Hat tip to her, btw, for the link to the Marist polls.