Gillibrand begs donors: I still haven't hit the threshold to qualify for the Democratic debates yet

I have no “take” per se about this. I just feel like when a character as conniving as Gillibrand meets with embarrassing political failure, it’s good for the soul to pause a moment and revel in it.

It’s the 2020 equivalent of stopping to smell the flowers. Ahhhhhh.

She’s got to be thinking hard about abandoning ship at this point.

It’s a truism among election junkies that there’s no downside in running for president. If you’re a serious contender, like Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders, it’s your chance at the brass ring. If you’re an ideologue, like Andrew Yang or Tulsi Gabbard, it’s an unparalleled opportunity to get a national public hearing. If you’re a nobody, like Pete Buttigieg or Eric “Who?” Swalwell, it’s a brand-building exercise that can raise your name recognition in anticipation of your next real race for office. There’s no reason not to run.

…unless, I guess, you’re an already pretty prominent politician and you end up grossly underperforming, turning yourself into a laughingstock. Like, for instance, if you’re a U.S. senator from New York with a Wall Street donor base who somehow raised less in the entire first quarter than Beto O’Rourke did in a day.

That might be a reason not to run.

At least Gillibrand can count on the support of influential politicians in her home st— [record scratch]

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has raised millions of dollars during his campaigns over the years, has indicated to associates in recent days that he will be opening his vast and powerful fundraising network exclusively to Joe Biden, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter…

“Andrew is all in for Joe. He is pushing his entire network that way – political and funding,” said a person who has spoken to Cuomo recently.

No big deal, said Gillibrand nonchalantly in response, before returning to a game of beer pong. Even if this campaign began for her as a brand-building candidacy with an eye to running for president more credibly in 2024 or 2028, the brand she’s building right now reeks of loserdom. She might have been a semi-plausible VP candidate for Biden or some other nominee had she sat the race out and sought to present herself in public appearances, however unpersuasively, as the voice of liberal women. As it is, putting her on the ticket now would raise a confused outcry among rank-and file Dems. “Why is the lamest candidate in the field being elevated above contenders who got many more votes than she did?”

If she ends up failing to qualify for the debates, I’m guessing that’s her cue to take the Scott Walker path and bow out early. End the embarrassment and offer yourself as a campaign surrogate to Biden in the hope/expectation that he’ll be elected president and reward you with a job. (I’m assuming Bernie wants no part of Gillibrand given her ties to Wall Street.) She could conceivably be useful to Uncle Joe given the niche she’s carved for herself as the “girl power” candidate: Although her campaign writ large has been dismal, she has the distinction of being the only person in the field with a majority of women among her large donors. She could use the #MeToo cred she earned from the Al Franken episode to offer Biden public absolution for his grabbiness and for how he handled the Clarence Thomas hearing. That’s worth something to him.

I think that’s what she’ll do. Her defining characteristic, remember, is opportunism in the name of career advancement. If she concludes that Kirsten Gillibrand’s access to power will be improved by signing over her feminist agenda to Team Biden to exploit however they like, she’ll do it in the blink of an eye. With no regrets.

But she’ll have to decide soon. Biden’s in the race now and she’s already been asked about his sins against wokeness. If she slams him hard as a splashy longshot attempt to try to revive her campaign, she’ll ruin her utility to him as a potential surrogate on women’s issues and almost certainly do nothing to improve her own chances. The smart play until she officially pulls the plug is to go easy on him — which is what she’s done, as you’ll see below. In the meantime, the Franken matter has turned into a nifty excuse for her own poor performance: It’s hard to believe she’d be faring much better in a field this crowded, with a campaign as pointless as the one she’s running, had she not alienated the Al Franken fans in the donor class, but pretending otherwise is a convenient excuse for her meager fundraising.