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New York: Senate Women to Fete Gillibrand Next Week

Newly appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) may still be on shaky ground with some liberal groups in the Empire State, but she is being embraced by all of the Democratic women in the Senate.

All 12 of Gillibrand’s female Democratic colleagues are hosting a cocktail-hour fundraiser for her on Wednesday at Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) Capitol Hill townhouse. Tickets start at $500.

Gillibrand was beginning her second term in the House when she was appointed to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Senate in late January. At least a half-dozen Democrats, including Reps. Steve Israel, Carolyn Maloney and Carolyn McCarthy, are contemplating challenging her in next year’s primary. reported Wednesday that Maloney earlier this month hired a statewide finance director for the first time. The Web site said that Maloney has two fundraisers scheduled in the coming days in New York’s theater district, the first before a performance of “9 to 5— on Friday night, the second a reception next week after a performance of “West Side Story.—

But the new finance director, Lewis Cohen, cautioned against reading too much into his hiring. “Anything that might happen is only in the talking and planning stages,— he told PolitickerNY.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (D), who created an exploratory committee last week for a possible challenge to Gillibrand, has a major fundraiser scheduled for April 30, but it is for his 2009 re-election campaign rather than the federal campaign committee.

Stringer is holding a breakfast fundraiser at Blue Fin, a popular Times Square seafood restaurant. Ticket prices begin at $300.

Maffei Gets First Opponent for 2010

Although he probably doesn’t qualify as the powerhouse they were looking for, Republicans got their first candidate this week in the race to take on freshman Rep. Dan Maffei (D).

Paul Bertan, a longtime leader of the Onondaga County Conservative Party who now is a registered Republican, told the Syracuse Post-Standard this week that he plans to run for Maffei’s seat next year.

Bertan, 73, ran unsuccessfully for the county Legislature in 1969 and for state Assembly in 1970.

Maffei, a former Capitol Hill staffer, won an open seat last year after falling just short in a race against then-Rep. Jim Walsh (R) in 2006. The Syracuse-based 25th district is trending Democratic, and Maffei, who banked a solid $320,000 as of March 31, is favored to win a second term.

Republicans have not written off the seat, however. Their dream recruits would include Onondaga County Executive Joanne Mahoney, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick and state Assemblyman Bob Oaks, but none has taken public steps toward running yet.

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