Stringer: No plans to challenge Gillibrand

Borough President Scott Stringer added his voice Friday to the growing group of New York City politicians concerned about Gov. David Paterson’s pick of Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Senate seat.

“Clearly, [Gillibrand’s] voting record would not be the same as [Rep.] Jerry Nadler’s,” Stringer told Downtown Express. “But that means we have to sit with her and talk to her about the issues we care about.”

As for the rumor, reported by the Daily News, that Stringer is looking to challenge Gillibrand for the Senate seat in 2010’s Democratic primary, the borough president did not rule out the possibility but he did not sound like he was planning anything either.

“The only office I’m running for in 2009 is reelection of borough president,” Stringer told Downtown Express.

It is particularly important for Gillibrand to fight for stimulus aid for the state’s urban areas and advocate for ending the war in Iraq, Stringer said. Asked if Gillibrand, who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association, is too conservative, Stringer said he needed to learn more about her.

Gillibrand, who was first elected to Congress in 2006, represents several counties in New York, including Saratoga, Dutchess, Rensselaer and Delaware. She is expected to become New York’s junior senator on Sunday, replacing Clinton, the new Secretary of State.

At her announcement in Albany Friday, Gillibrand said she favored hunters’ rights, but she thought there was a lot of “common ground” to work with U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy from Long Island on measures to cut gun violence. McCarthy, a gun control leader who entered politics after her husband was shot and killed on the Long Island Rail Road, is considering a primary challenge to Gillibrand, according to several news reports.

Another gun control leader, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, issued a statement soon after the Gillibrand announcement criticizing her because she “voted to keep critical data needed to track illegal gun traffickers from law enforcement, has voted to tie the hands of the [Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives], and has also voted to protect dealers who sell guns illegally….

“Now, as she begins representing the whole state, I look forward to working with her to help her gain a broader understanding of the problems affecting New York City so she can be an effective advocate for all New Yorkers.”

Similarly, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who was mostly effusive in his praise of Gillibrand at the Albany announcement, said he disagreed with her on guns, but he was confident her views would change as she learned more about New York City.

— Julie Shapiro and Josh Rogers