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New York's newest senator still unknown to many - and vulnerable

After eight years of following Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton from Washington to Waterloo, Iowa, and beyond, I couldn't help but notice the differences last week when I tagged along as her replacement in the Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand, got to know her new New York City constituents.

There were no Secret Service agents trailing Gillibrand, no battalion of cameramen, no gawking autograph-seekers. Instead, there was just Gillibrand and one crowd after another filled with people who either didn't recognize her or didn't have much of any opinion about her.

Such is the state of affairs for the former upstate congresswoman who is trying to suddenly serve the giant, and very different, political constituency of New York City.

Aiming to please, Gillibrand has shown a newfound interest in gun legislation and eased the harsh edge of her stance on immigration, but that has done nothing to stop a coterie of potential Democratic primary challengers from lining up behind her.

The question is: Can she fend off potential challengers like Reps. Carolyn McCarthy, Carolyn Maloney and Steve Israel, who are far better known downstate?

— Jerry Zremski

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