Blue on blue: Gillibrand vs Soros over her Al Franken comments

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has been working to score points and burnish her progressive bona fides for a 2020 presidential run for some time now, but perhaps one of her biggest moves was to be the first Democrat to call for Senator Al Franken to resign following his Me Too moment. She was only the first one by a matter of hours, but many seemed to give her credit for opening the floodgates leading to Franken’s resignation. That hasn’t sat quite so well with everyone, however, as Franken still maintains significant popularity in liberal circles.

One serious player who Gillibrand apparently angered was billionaire liberal donor George Soros. The Huffington Post has a report this week featuring the war that’s broken out between Soros and the New York Senator. The article by Amanda Terkel starts out with a lengthy salute to how wonderful Al Franken is but then gets down to the business at hand. It turns out that Soros is shopping around for 2020 Democratic contenders to support be he’s already placed Gillibrand firmly on the naughty list.

Most prominently, Gillibrand has attracted the ire of billionaire George Soros, who has long funded Democratic candidates and causes. Soros recently said he wasn’t sure whom he was supporting for 2020, but that it absolutely wouldn’t be Gillibrand. He accused her of going after Franken, “whom I admire,” to “improve her chances” for president.

“If standing up for women who have been wronged makes George Soros mad, that’s on him,” Gillibrand said in a statement to HuffPost. “But I won’t hesitate to always do what I think is right. For nearly a year, we have seen countless acts of courage as women and men have spoken hard truths about sexual assault and sexual harassment and demanded accountability.”

“I stand with them in this new watershed moment of important change in our society on what we deem as acceptable,” she added. “It is clear that we must put our morals and the valuing of women ahead of party loyalty. When someone does something wrong, you have to speak up and be counted, whether it’s President Trump, or a Democratic colleague.”

Jumping into a fight with Soros really doesn’t pose that much of a threat to Gillibrand since she can pick up plenty of other donors anyway. And nobody in her own party is going to go after her too vigorously over supporting the #MeToo movement, even if they remain fans of Franken and feel he was rushed out the door too soon.

But that does bring up the question of why Gillibrand is taking the hit for this in the first place. She’s hardly the only one to call for Franken’s resignation among Democrats… she was only the first, and even then not by much. Let’s face it, she wasn’t the one who decided to grope one sleeping woman for a sight gag and allegedly get all handsy with a bunch of others. And if Franken felt he was innocent, Gillibrand had no power to literally force him out of office. He could have simply stuck to his guns and waited for a full investigation to play out. Asking her to take the blame (or credit, depending on your point of view) for Franken’s departure seems a bit of a stretch.

Soros will be a major player in the Democrats’ 2020 primary to be sure, but he’s not the only one. The Me Too moment doesn’t look to be running out of steam any time soon and I get the sense that Gillibrand will be able to attract plenty of donations because of her denouncements of both Franken and Bill Clinton, not in spite of them. But in the meantime, seeing George Soros at war with any of the Democrats is at least a decent reason to break out the popcorn and watch the show.

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