Carolyn Maloney's decision to drop her noisy threat to challenge Kirsten Gillibrand marks yet another victory for Senator Chuck Schumer, who, by helping clear the field of viable primary opponents to Gillibrand, ensures that he will have a receptive, influence-multiplying partner in a Senate where he is playing an increasingly prominent role.
For now, and for the foreseeable future, Gillibrand is happy to be under Schumer's wing, where she can concentrate on building a legislative record and new political brand—"Senator Working Mom"—in relative peace.
After months of her supporters (chief among them Schumer) spreading the word to members of the New York Congressional delegation and fund-raisers that Maloney lacked the stuff to be a senator and should be frozen out, Gillibrand offered Maloney the sort of praise the Upper East Side representative probably hoped not to hear.
"Carolyn Maloney is a dedicated public servant and a passionate, effective advocate for the issues she fights for,” Gillibrand said in her statement. “For nearly two decades she has been at the helm of landmark legislation to defend consumers from credit card scams, improve crime labs to protect women from assault, and ensure equal protections for women in the workplace. I look forward to continue working with her in the months and years to come on passing the 9/11 health care bill and other legislation that will improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers.”
Schumer, who has a low opinion of Maloney's abilities, was preparing a statement that likely echoed the junior senator who will now be expected to always echo him.
Told of Maloney's departure, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was gardening with city volunteers in Jamaica, Queens, seemed happy to stay out of it.
"It's the Democratic Party's business and I shouldn't be involved in that," he said. "I'm not a registered Democrat and I think it's up to them to decide what they want to do."