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Kirsten Gillibrand moving toward 2020 bid in coming days, sources say

Gillibrand is slated to appear on CBS' "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" Tuesday night.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is expected to announce as soon as Tuesday that she’s formed an exploratory presidential campaign committee, according to a Democratic source and multiple reports.

Gillibrand is set to appear Tuesday on CBS’ “Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” on which she will announce her intentions, CBS reported.

The 52-year-old, who was easily re-elected to the U.S. Senate two months ago, had been taking steps that signal a campaign announcement is imminent. She has begun to hire staff, meet with donors, planned a trip to Iowa – this upcoming weekend — and signed a lease for a building in upstate Troy that is expected to serve as a campaign headquarters.

A presidential campaign veteran said the only step left is the formal announcement.

"The calls to big donors, playing hard in the staff primary for top-flight campaign talent and signing leases on property, these are not accidents,” Kevin Madden, spokesman for Mitt Romney’s 2012 Republican presidential campaign and a CNN political analyst, said Monday. “These are building blocks or pieces of a puzzle, all designed to fall in place for a presidential campaign.”

Gillibrand would join a quickly crowding Democratic field. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard already have announced they’re running. Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, and HUD secretary in the Obama administration official, is expected to announce this week as well.

Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke are weighing bids, as is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who nearly won the 2016 nomination and led the party’s shift to the left over the last three years.

Perhaps the biggest name of all, former Vice President Joseph Biden, reportedly will make a decision on running in the coming weeks.

Gillibrand burst onto the New York political scene in 2006 when she upset Republican Congressman John Sweeney in a district that ran north and south around Albany. She got a big break in 2009 when then-Gov. David A. Paterson appointed her to fill out the Senate term of Hillary Clinton, who had resigned to become U.S. Secretary of State.

Gillibrand cruised to re-election in 2012 and again last fall. According to Federal Election Commission records, she finished the 2018 election with $10.6 million in her campaign coffers.

As she moved from upstate congresswoman to statewide senator, Gillibrand’s views on a number of issues evolved. She called her switch from Second Amendment defender to gun-control advocate as an epiphany reached after meeting with parents of gun-violence victims. Her views on immigration also shifted left.

While in office, she’s become known for her fight to get benefits for 9/11 rescue workers and police, to end the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy toward gays and lesbians serving in the armed forces, and to press for investigations about sexual harassment and assault in the military.

She also angered some Democrats by calling for the resignation of then-Minnesota Sen. Al Franken over sexual harassment complaints.

She lives in Brunswick, a suburb of Troy, about 20 miles northeast of Albany, with her husband and two young sons. Selecting Troy as a campaign base could highlight her upstate roots, analysts have said.

 

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