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It's a small world, after all ... Kirsten Gillibrand is connected in many ways

January 23, 2009 | 10:58 am

Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks during a news conference in Albany, N.Y., Friday, Jan. 23, 2009. Gillibrand, a second-term lawmaker from upstate New York, was named to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated when Hillary Rodham Clinton resigned to become secretary of state in the Obama administration. New York Gov. David Paterson who selected her, is at right.

When the governor of the state of New York today named an upstate congresswoman to fill a vacant U. S. Senate seat, it was a reminder of just how small the political world can be.

New York Gov. David Paterson tapped Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to fill the Senate seat just given up by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Gillibrand, 42, is the daughter of a long-time Albany political insider, who won her congressional seat by defeating a powerful Republican congressman, John Sweeney, the former executive director of state Republican Party.

During her career, she worked for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, then headed by Andrew Cuomo, one of the Senate possibilities rejected by Paterson. Cuomo is the son of the former governor, Mario Cuomo. The elder Cuomo once served as New York secretary of state, a position also held by Paterson’s father, Basil.

In fact, the only real outsider in what became a political soap opera over the Senate seat was Caroline Kennedy, who had never run for office and who withdrew in her name from consideration as a replacement for Clinton.

Of course, she was related to the younger Cuomo, who was married and divorced from a Kennedy cousin, Kerry, the daughter of Robert Kennedy, who was a senator from New York.

Confused? Imagine the confusion among New York voters when they get choose a governor, a senator and state comptroller in 2010. None of the incumbents won those posts in elections, having moved up.

-- Michael Muskal

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Photo: Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand speaks during a news conference in Albany, N.Y., after being named to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Gov. David Paterson, who selected Gillibrand, is at right. Credit: Mike Groll / Associated Press

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