By The Hill Editors - 07/07/09 04:40 PM EDT
Just when you thought the tension between the Clintons and Obamas was over, it has been revived.
Former President Clinton will headline a fundraiser later this month for Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), a nine-term lawmaker who is about to formally declare a Senate bid against Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas Senate Dems call for investigation into Wells Fargo's wage practices Fears mount that Obama will change course on Israel in final months MORE (D-N.Y.).
President Obama and Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerSaudis hire lobbyists amid 9/11 fight Consumer bureau remains partisan target after Wells Fargo settlement Overnight Healthcare: Planned Parenthood deal in sight in Senate | A new 'public option' push MORE (D-N.Y.) are strong supporters of Gillibrand and are committed to campaigning actively for her next year.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthyCarolyn McCarthyLobbying World Lobbying world House Dem says leaders must know when to move on MORE (D-N.Y.) was also mulling a bid, but decided against it, although neither she nor Israel has ruled out endorsing Maloney.
Matt McKenna, Clinton’s spokesman, recently told The New York Times that the ex-president “agreed to do [the fundraiser] some time ago as a way to say thank you to Congresswoman Maloney.”
Maloney backed Hillary Rodham Clinton when she was New York’s junior senator and was making a bid for the White House. So did every member of Congress from New York.
Bill ClintonBill ClintonGennifer Flowers says she will attend debate Trump threatens to bring Gennifer Flowers to debate Michelle Obama, Biden, Bill Clinton to hit post-debate campaign trail MORE knows that helping Maloney causes eyebrows to be raised. Certainly, there are some puzzled people over at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. wondering about Clinton’s move.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D), the dean of the New York delegation, has wondered aloud why Obama got so involved in the contest over Clinton’s old seat.
Earlier this year, the White House was concerned it could lose the seat to former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) or Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.). The thinking was that a bruising Democratic primary could allow Pataki or King to win next fall. But Pataki and King are showing less, not more, inclination to get into the race.
Politics is difficult to predict, but it is a safe bet that Democrats will keep New York in their column, whether the winner is Gillibrand or Maloney.
Some media accounts have portrayed Maloney’s bid as an uphill and lonely quest against the White House. Don’t believe it.
Gillibrand has deftly moved left since being appointed to the Senate, most notably on gun control. But changing positions is always tricky.
Still, Gillibrand has a popular president behind her, and perhaps more importantly, she has Schumer on her side. Schumer has a vast political operation throughout every county in New York. He usually gets what he wants, and he will go all out to get Gillibrand reelected.
Whoever wins, Gillibrand-Maloney will be one of the most fascinating races of the 2010 cycle.