Why Scott Stringer Is Doing It

Scott Stringer floated his name today as a potential challenger to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Wow—random, you may say. But the important thing to keep in mind is that he has little to lose by this exercise and, potentially, something to gain.

For Stringer, currently the Manhattan borough president, the 2010 election cycle is an off-year, and he’s up for what’s expected to be a relatively easy reelection. So, unlike the House members from New York who have made noise about possibly challenging David Paterson's Senate appointee in a primary, Stringer wouldn’t have to give up his current job to do so. This also means Stringer can dangle the prospect of challenging her for quite some time without any real fallout.

Stringer’s political team has no allegiance to the governor that appointed Gillibrand. Among Stringer’s consultants are Josh Isay and the folks at Knickerbocker SKD, who spearheaded the unsuccessful bid by Caroline Kennedy.

And in terms of Stringer's actual prospects, it's kind of tough. Gillibrand's incumbency and establishment backing will count for a lot. But it's not nothing that the part of the world that Stringer currently represents, Manhattan, is a gold mine for super-prime Democratic voters. (There are more Democratic voters registered there than in any other county in the state, except Brooklyn [corrected].)

It should also be remembered, for what it's worth, that Stringer has demonstrated an ability to campaign (hard!) and win against female opposition. In the 2005 Manhattan borough president’s race, Stringer, with some help from the teacher’s union, took shots at another leading candidate, Eva Moskowitz. He suffered no ill effects.