Gay Rights Flip-Flopper Sen. Gillibrand to Face 2010 Challenge From Gay Legislator Jon Cooper?


When Hillary Clinton left her New York senator post, it began a battle that included Caroline Kennedy, Fran Drescher, and the eventual successor Gov. David Paterson appointed, Kirsten Gillibrand. But Gillibrand has only until 2010 to serve, and then she’ll face a real election. Mounting a battle for her seat already? Openly gay state Suffolk County legislator Jon Cooper, who says Gillibrand “has not been a strong supporter” on gay rights.

“I consider myself progressive on the important issues,” Cooper tells Newsday, while pointing out that his potential opponent made “a 180 degree turnabout” — and we all know flip-flopping on issues can be a political death sentence.


And, well, Cooper is right. Before Gillibrand was a U.S. senator, she was a congresswoman, and in that position she didn’t do very much for gay rights. But overnight and with single phone calls, as Queerty reported, she got gay rights organizations to back her by, uh, suddenly changing her position and backing measures like the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

If Cooper (who has five adopted children with partner Rob) does mount a campaign — one that would cost an estimated $20-30 million — and won, he would become the first openly gay senator in the United States. Then again, as Long Island’s campaign chairman for Barack Obama, he raised an estimated $1 million for the now-president. And if he runs in 2010, the man in the White House might have to pay some favors owed Cooper, putting our commander-in-chief in the awkward position of choosing between a sitting senator and an old friend.

More unclear, though, is whether the campaign can even get off the ground. The Newsday article is really just a planted seed — to see what sort of traction even the idea of Cooper running might have with fellow Democrats.