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Kirsten Gillibrand, New York senator: What to know

Kirsten Gillibrand was largely unknown when she was appointed as a New York senator in 2009 -- having only been in office as a congresswoman for two years before that -- but she was overwhelming re-elected in 2012.

Born in Albany on Dec. 9, 1966, Gillibrand was called Tina growing up because her younger brother couldn't pronounce Kirsten.

Gillibrand worked as a lawyer in New York City before running for office, and today, she lives with her family in Brunswick, New York, when she's not in Washington, D.C.

Here are seven things you may not have known about the New York senator.

She comes from a political family

Gillibrand's father, Doug Rutnik, was a lobbyist in
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Mandel Ngan

Gillibrand's father, Doug Rutnik, was a lobbyist in Albany, and her grandmother Polly Noonan was involved with the Albany Democratic Women's Club.

She was roommates with Connie Britton in college

While pursuing Asian studies at Dartmouth College, Gillibrand
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Kimberly White; Cindy Ord

While pursuing Asian studies at Dartmouth College, Gillibrand went abroad to Beijing and Taiwan. She lived in Beijing for a summer and her roommate was actress Connie Britton.

She was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton

According to an interview with an adviser to
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Hiroko Masuike

According to an interview with an adviser to Hillary Clinton in 1999, Gillibrand "wandered in off the street" into the campaign's headquarters in New York City. "She just came in and said, 'How can I help?'" the former adviser told Time. Then a lawyer, Gillibrand campaigned for Clinton during her U.S. Senate run in 2000.

Gillibrand has remained close with Clinton and, in July, she spoke at the Democratic National Convention, praising the Democratic presidential nominee for her work for women and children.

She took Clinton's seat in the Senate

Gillibrand was in the House of Representatives between
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Jonathan Ernst

Gillibrand was in the House of Representatives between 2007 and 2009, representing New York State's 20th District. When Hillary Clinton became secretary of state in 2009, leaving her position as a New York senator, then-Gov. David A. Paterson appointed Gillibrand to the senate position. She ran in the special election in 2010, winning with 63 percent of the vote. She was re-elected in 2012 with 72 percent of the vote.

She was the youngest senator when she was sworn in

At age 42, Gillibrand was the youngest member
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Win McNamee

At age 42, Gillibrand was the youngest member of the Senate when she was sworn in on Jan. 26, 2009. She held the title until September of that year when Florida Sen. George LeMieux was sworn in at age 40.

She was a major supporter of the Zadroga Act

Gillibrand campaigned vigorously for 9/11 first responders who
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla

Gillibrand campaigned vigorously for 9/11 first responders who were suffering from illnesses related to their services at Ground Zero. She was the Senate's primary sponsor of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act, which, once passed, would provide healthcare and compensation to the first responders.

She has two sons

Gillibrand and her husband, Jonathan, have two sons,
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Jonathan Ernst

Gillibrand and her husband, Jonathan, have two sons, Theodore and Henry. The family is pictured above in 2009 when Gillibrand was sworn into the Senate.

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