As NY1 continues its week-long look at women in politics and government, the channel turns to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who has gone from Hillary Clinton's unknown replacement to a Democratic star. Washington bureau reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report for NY1.
It's easy to say that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand lost two weeks ago when her controversial bill to combat sexual assaults in the military was blocked by her colleagues, but in reality, Gillibrand may have come out the winner.
"When you build good will with a colleague and you find common ground, you instinctively know you can find common ground on other issues, too," she said.
New York's junior senator is now setting her sights on passing a long-shot economic agenda aimed at helping women get everything from better medical leave to affordable day care to equal pay for equal work.
She made her case to the president last week, combining her political message with a uniquely personal one.
"Funny enough, I might've missed the meeting because little Henry was sick, and so I was desperately looking for emergency child care so I could actually attend the meeting," she said.
The legislation dovetails nicely with another one of Gillibrand's crusades. Using her prodigious fundraising skills, she launched a political action committee a couple of years ago, aimed at getting more women elected to public office.
This year, she plans to campaign for Martha Robertson, who is up against Rep. Tom Reed, and Kathleen Rice, who is vying for the Long Island seat being vacated by Carolyn McCarthy.
It’s in those races, and others across the country, that the legislation will act like a political document. In 2012, women swayed the election, and Gillibrand thinks they will do so again this fall.
"I think they are determinative," she said. "I think if women vote, and women are heard on the issues they care about, they will decide the outcome of these elections."
At this point, polls point to Democrats losing big this fall, and that means that Gillibrand may not get the colleagues she needs to pass her agenda. So for now, she plans to lobby the conservatives who stood with her on her sexual assault bill.
"I plan to ask all of my allies what they think about it, so that's sort of my to-do list for the next few weeks," she said.
It's unlikely that Sen. Ted Cruz and company will go along with her, but it may not matter. Gillibrand now has a platform to make herself heard.