New York's Junior Senator Gets Halbfinger's Hurrahs in the New York Times

The New York Times put its full weight behind liberal New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on the front page on Thursday, after she fought for open homosexuality in the military and a measure extending health care to first responders to the 9/11 attacks. In this article, it's clear they're happiest about her gay advocacy. Reporter David Halbfinger hailed a new heroine in explicitly gushy terms:

When that measure, too, won approval on Wednesday, it not only marked a victory of legislative savvy and persistence. It also signaled the serious emergence of Ms. Gillibrand, the 44-year-old successor to Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

Once derided as an accidental senator, lampooned for her verbosity and threatened with many challengers who openly doubted her abilities, a succinct, passionate and effective Senator Gillibrand has made her presence felt in the final days of this Congress.

Her efforts have won grudging admiration from critics, adulation from national liberals and gay rights groups, and accolades from New York politicians across the political spectrum, including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who once shopped for potential candidates to oust her.

Even her relentlessness, which once drew mockery, is now earning the highest compliment of all: professional jealousy from her more senior colleagues.

“To have gone from a virtual unknown to being a major player on some landmark legislation in such a short period of time just shows what Kirsten is capable of,” said Ilyse Hogue, director of political advocacy for 

Let's hope Halbfinger doesn't think "accolades from across the political spectrum" end on the "far right" with Michael Bloomberg, but there was no actual Republican included at this party on the front page. But the Times included itself -- in that "adulation from national liberals" part.

This is quite a distance from early 2009, when the Times shared the liberal disdain for erratic Gov. David Paterson's appointment of Gillibrand, who cast too many right-wing votes for them, even if that was one out of  10. Clay Waters quoted from reporter Michael Powell:

She possesses a veteran politician's easy style, serving kisses on the cheeks to her colleagues and hugs for her nieces and nephews who came to witness her swearing-in. But the road from representing a rural and distinctly conservative district encircling Albany to taking responsibility for the entire state comes with sizable potholes.

Since Gov. David A. Paterson announced her appointment on Friday, she has been lashed for her positions on guns -- very much in favor -- and illegal immigration -- very much against -- with downstate Democrats rumbling about primary challenges.

When the American Conservative Union scored her first year of votes in the Senate in 2009, she was right there with Charles Schumer -- she achieved a zero, down from her lifetime average of 10.

Homosexuality New York Times David Halbfinger Kirsten Gillibrand
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