Obama Speaks — and Steve Israel Quits Race Against Gillibrand


It all happened so fast. Earlier we told you that House members from New York Carolyn McCarthy, Carolyn Maloney and Steve Israel were threatening to take down Kirsten Gillibrand in 2010. A day later, NARAL gave Kirsten Gillibrand its endorsement — about a year early.

Today Politico carries a statement by an unnamed “one New York Democrat,” which reads in its entirety, “The President doesn’t want a messy primary in New York when those resources can better be spent elsewhere.”

And minutes later, Representative Steve Israel is out of the race.

Politico updates with a hemming statement from Israel, who had been reported ready to announce a run at Gillibrand: “Spoke with President Obama today… asked me to continue my leadership in Congress… tough, heartfelt decision for me… have decided to continue my efforts in Congress and not pursue a campaign for the U.S. Senate.”

The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and Gillibrand herself issue very thoughtful statements — “Terrific congressman,” says DSCC Chairman Bob Menendez; “Generous decision… extraordinary leader,” says Gillibrand.

Not everyone is playing along. Politico says Carolyn McCarthy is still up for the challenge, whether hers or someone else’s. And labor leader Jonathan Tasini — who, having made a primary run at Hillary Clinton in 2007, clearly isn’t afraid of anything — tells them, “Had the party leadership sought to ‘clear the field’ in 2008 and control a vigorous debate about the direction of our party and our country, Barack Obama would not be president today.”

Gillibrand today was in West Bablyon, taking voter questions at a Stop & Shop.