As the political chatter picks up about Hillary Clinton's trip to Iowa this weekend, her successor in the U.S. Senate is slowly picking up some momentum as well.
Kirsten Gillibrand has a new book to sell – but she's also pushing a message of common-sense Democratic politics to some members of the party who may be a little tired of Clinton and wary of Elizabeth Warren's or Bill de Blasio's ideology.
While it may be premature to speak about New York's junior senator in presidential terms, it's something she's clearly toying with when she thinks about her future. After Clinton, she may be the state's best hope to take the national stage. Unlike Andrew Cuomo in 2012, Gillibrand addressed the Iowa delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. And unlike Cuomo, she's not afraid of TV interviews. She was on "Face the Nation" yesterday and is on "Inside City Hall" tonight.
Gillibrand's major issue in the Senate so far was a losing battle that got a lot of publicity– taking military sexual assault cases away from commanders and giving it to military lawyers – a proposal that won the support of eleven Republicans including Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. A compromise bill passed instead. But even in her defeat, Gillibrand's arguments seem to make a lot of sense.
With Congress stuck in a rut of inertia, it's unclear what Gillibrand – or Chuck Schumer for that matter -- can actually get done in the Senate over the next two years but it's clear that her profile is on the rise. With a party already searching for its post-Obama identity, expect someone who was only been in Congress for five years to be a major player. After all, Obama was in the Senate for only four.