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Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate Race

Westchester District Attorney and television legal analyst Jeanine Pirro has finally made up her mind. For months, she's been going back and forth between running for Governor or Attorney General of New York or challenging Hillary Clinton for the New York Senate Seat. She has now decided on the Senate seat.

Jeanine is pretty much a one-issue person: Lock 'em up (and by extension, pass more victims' rights bills.) Hillary is no liberal on criminal justice issues, but she's fairer than Jeanine.

The interesting question though, is why did she pick the Senate race, which is all but impossible for her to win if Hillary is the opposing candidate. Here's her answer as to why she is running:

...she [Hillary] wants us to re-elect her even though she won't promise to serve out her term and wants to use us as a springboard to the presidency. She's asking us to become her doormat. I believe we deserve better."

I think her party is offering her up as a sacrificial lamb to batter Hillary before her 2008 run.

Some top Republicans, including state GOP Chairman Stephen Minarik, had been pressing for Pirro to run against Clinton on the theory that even if she lost the race, the district attorney could bloody the former first lady as she prepares for a possible run for president in 2008.

Jeanine already has a primary fight on her hands. Ed Cox, Richard Nixon's son-in-law, also wants the job. Here's his press statement about Jeanine's announcement.

Then there's the "Al Factor" - her husband - which I think is old news by now and won't amount to much.

Pirro was re-elected district attorney in 2001 while her husband, lawyer-lobbyist Albert Pirro, was in federal prison for tax fraud, and he has been an issue in most of her campaigns. In 1986, he refused to release information about his law practice and she had to withdraw as the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor. He is a major Republican fundraiser.

So what's in it for Jeanine? Possibly a cabinet post in the next Administration, if a Republican gets elected in 2008-- Attorney General Pirro.

Update: New articles on the run: The New York Times;Washington Post;

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  • Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#1)
    by swingvote on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:03 PM EST
    "Jeanine is pretty much a one-issue person: Lock 'em up (and by extension, pass more victims' rights bills.)" Really? The article linked to says that she also works with battered women and against underage drinking, issues of interest to those in upstate New York, which has too much of both. And isn't she right, anyway? Doesn't New York deserve a Senator who intends to be their Senator? Hillary has always had a problem with the truth, and she shares her husband's tendency to tell stupid lies when there's no need to lie at all. Like "Clinton has said she is completely focused on her re-election bid and is not thinking about running for the White House." Just how stupid does this woman think the people of New York are? She's been thinking about running for the White House since at least 1992 and we all know it. Personally, I've been impressed with how well Hillary has done in the Senate, but then she is a shrewd politician at heart, so it shouldn't be a surprise. But even though she is the favorite today, she shouldn't assume it's in the bag, and neither should anyone who supports her, either as a Senator or for President. She won in 2000 when running as a liberal for the seat of much-loved retiring liberal, and she did it against a political naife thrown in to the race at the last minute when a far better candidate dropped out (although I think she probably would have beaten Giulani as well). Today she is supposedly a centrist, a hawk, or a liberal, depending on which talk show you're watching, and she has a record that can be reviewed, all of which adds up to a real race on the merits. But at the end of the day, it may well come down to just the questions Pirro wants to raise. Will Hillary serve out a term (even TL assumes otherwise and states so openly) and how has she served New York to date as she has sought to raise her national profile above the many scandals of her husband's administration? At the very least, it should make for an interesting season.

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#2)
    by desertswine on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:04 PM EST
    Pirro's going to have to claw her way through a primary against Nixon son-in-law Ed Cox.

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:04 PM EST
    Pirro has a lot of support up in conservative (i.e. wealthy) Westchester county, not much elsewhere. I would say most NY'ers haven't even heard of her. Underage drinking may be a big issue for parents in the wealthy suburbs, but not for the majority of NY'ers. Most of us are more concerned with housing and health care costs. Her "lock 'em up and let the prison system sort it out" style won't fly in largely liberal NY state, where a lot of constituents are looking for prison reform, not prison expansion. I think the state GOP sees her as the only one with a prayer against Hillary because of her gender, and a slim prayer at that. I wouldn't vote for a candidate like Pirro in a million years, so I'll reluctantly vote for Hillary again. Speaking of a million, those are the odds of Pirro winning, a million to one. She makes a valid point about Hillary being committed to representing NY'ers, but that's not reason enough to vote for Pirro. She's a one trick pony, crime. There are other issues of far more importance. I'll take half of Hillary's attention as opposed to 100% of Pirro's. Better yet, I will hope for a viable third party alternative, maybe I can find a Green or Working Families party candidate to vote for.

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#4)
    by jackl2400 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:04 PM EST
    Say what you will about Hillary, Justpaul and anyone else, but Hillary's a damn good pol and she DEMOLISHED the Republican no-name empty suit (Rick Lazio) they put up to run against her the last time, six years ago, when she was elected. Since then, she goes around upstate and sweet-talks nominal republican/conservative types and they EAT IT UP. I just saw this performance in my home town 50 mi. north of Albany a few months ago. The story had it right. Pirro is a sacrifical lamb. She has a husband with ethics/criminal problems like VP candidate Geraldine Ferraro, and her Guiliani "tough on crime" prosecutor stuff doesn't play too well upstate or even in the City anymore. "Cut down on drunken driving", hah! fahgedaboudit. She's running for US Senator, not DA or even AG. Why is she running? Hint: sacrificial lambs are given judgeship appointments or similar political plums, like being named head of some state Authority.

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#5)
    by swingvote on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:04 PM EST
    Jackl, You seem to have missed the point, which is not the Hillary is not the favorite, but that she should not assume she is a shoe-in. Political careers have been wrecked on smaller amounts of hubris. And it should be obvious that if having a husband with ethical and criminal problems was a death sentence (politically speaking) in New York State, Hillary herself would not be in office. Jeanine Pirro has been dealing with her issues (or her husband's) since the beginning of her career. Hillary has been lying about her own husband's problems, and some of her own, for at least 20 years. I note also that as a New Yorker, you could answer the question Pirro is asking. Are you not at all concerned that a person who seeks to be your Senator has an obvious interest in moving on shortly afterward?

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#6)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:04 PM EST
    Justpaul, Good point about Clinton. Today she is supposedly a centrist, a hawk, or a liberal, depending on which talk show you're watching, and she has a record that can be reviewed, all of which adds up to a real race on the merits The right trash will jump all over withe the old "I can't debate someone who takes EVERY position!" rag. As long as the WOT (sorry, the global struggle against extremism) goes on, any Dem candidate who voted to unleash monkey boy in 2002 will never be able to run on the position that My Pet Chimp made a mistake. And they will never have the courage to say he lied.

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#7)
    by jackl2400 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:04 PM EST
    Justpaul: In answer to your question, I think most New Yorkers think that US Senator is a "national" office, as opposed to just representing constituents of a state like a congressman does. So New Yorkers don't traditionally have a problem with those claimed to be celebrity "carpetbaggers" moving to New York and becoming Senator. Hillary is in good company here traditionally (e.g, Bobby Kennedy, William Buckley's brother). New Yorkers would therefore elect a well-known celebrity to this national office before a local no-name like Pirro in a heartbeat. And since we northeasters believe that the nation would benefit from our leaders going on to greater national office, we wouldn't hold that against Hillary Clinton if she ran for higher office (however much we realize that the red state Kansases of the world do not want blue blood prep school RINO republicans representing them anymore...the days of Presidents coming from New England or somewhere other than the south and west is probably over for the time being...

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#8)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:04 PM EST
    Jacki-Isn't Hillary from Arkansas? I think if she were actually from NY, it would hurt her in a Presidental race. Southern or Western Dems. still rule, I am afraid, men in particular. BTW I have met her and she has one hell of a presence; an unusual combo of intense focus with generous heart. Truly a great one.

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#9)
    by swingvote on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:04 PM EST
    jackl, You seem to be intentioinally avoiding answering a straight question. I wonder if there is a reason for that. I didn't ask you how New Yorkers feel about carpetbaggers. I didn't ask you how New Yorkers feel about their politicians going on to higher office. And I didn't ask you how New Yorkers view a the job of a U.S. Senator. I asked you, how likely are New Yorkers, in your opinion, to vote for someone who is promising to serve them for the next six years when they know that isn't her intention? It's a simple enough question. Will the people of New York hire someone who has made it pretty clear that she doesn't really view the job as anything more than a stepping stone to a different position somewhere else?

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#10)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:04 PM EST
    As a New Yorker she has my vote, and I would love to see her as president even if she has been seen hanging out with Newt lately.

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#11)
    by jackl2400 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:04 PM EST
    Justpaul: I'm not avoiding answering the question...I thought it was pretty clear from the context of my last response...so let me try again: New Yorkers, even rural small town upstaters, think being US senator from a great urban state like New York is a pretty big deal, and by and large they'd be happy to see a New Yorker go on to national office. All things being equal, they'd think a senator from NY or a celebrity (or perhaps a pol from other big important states like California) would be a better candidate than some hick from flyover country who's unknown outside of his own state except for political junkie types. So, in answer to your question, again, carpetbaggers or folks with ambitions to go beyond New York are NOT A PROBLEM (unless perhaps Hillary was running for her 1st term with plans to junk the job within months to run for higher office). More true of the half of the state which is urban, many of those folks came to the city from the heartland to pursue the top career opportunities or escape from small town philistinism and anti-gayness. Those folks also value celebrity and competence WAY more than any local home-boy claims as well.

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:04 PM EST
    jpaul, Yes, I believe NY'ers would be fine with Hillary using her next Senate term as a stepping stone to the WH, especially if it saved us from Jeb:)

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#13)
    by swingvote on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:04 PM EST
    Jackl, I refer you to Kdog, who knows how to answer a question with a straight, unqualified answer. Kdog, I question whether the people of New York will vote for a person when they know she intends to leave them and whose replacement, if she is successful, will be out of their hands. However, I can only base that on the few people I know in New York and my own feelings if I were in such a situation. You may well be right. However, it does say something that Hillary, as so many before her, seems to be unwilling to put her money where her mouth is and run for the Presidency without the fallback position of having her Senate seat to return to should she lose. Which seems odd given how few sitting U.S. Senators have ever been elected to the presidency. I wonder if that's because people can't help but sense a lack of conviction in such campaigns. With that said, I must agree that I myself would most likely vote for her rather than see Jeb Bush elected, just because I'm not a fan of political dynasties in general and the Bush dynasty in particular. But in the end, I believe Pirro still has a valid point. You and Jackl may feel it doesn't matter. Whether you are representative of the state in another matter. Either way, taking re-election in 2006 as a given is a dumb idea, especially for someone with Hillary's baggage.

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#14)
    by swingvote on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:04 PM EST
    jackl, Let me put it this way: Politician runs for office in New York, wins, builds a national image, and runs for national office when her term expires, or after stepping down. New Yorkers cheer. Politician tells New Yorkers she needs to be elected to a 6 year office so that she can use the prestige of same to run for national office in 2 years. New Yorkers cheer? On the first? Sure. On the second?

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#15)
    by jackl2400 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:04 PM EST
    Justpaul: Whatever. Long answer, short answer, you're just not gonna agree. So I'm with Kdog. Hillary was more popular than expected in her first win, because she had spent a lot of time upstate in supposedly staunch Republican territory for a year before the election "feeling our pain" about a slow economy. Now she's an incumbent and even more popular. If Jeanne Pirro or some other relative unknown runs against her with the charge that she's just using the office as a stepping stone, IMHO, that charge will have ZERO TRACTION. People consider this is a race for high office, not an election for senior class president. Clinton is viewed as popular and effective. That sort of personal innuendo (or Bill's problems) didn't work the last time and I can't see why it would work better now against an entrenched, popular incumbent.

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#16)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:05 PM EST
    ah, justpaul, the republican strawman. i'll answer your question: when, exactly, did you become a mind reader? how do you know what ms. clinton does or doesn't intend to do? do you have some special, insider information? if so, share it with the class. that answers your straw question. i have a question for TL: isn't being a DA and a TV analyst a clear conflict of interest? sorry, but i don't believe public officials have any business being "professional" analysts in the media, especially one charged with enforcing the law. too many opportunities for gilding your lilly there, possibly at some poor schnook's expense.

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#17)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:05 PM EST
    Squeaky - Hillary was born and raised in Illinois, one of the Chicago burbs. She is well educated, smart and will make a tough competitor against any Repub in '08. To me the purpose of Pirro is simply to make Hillary expend money and prove that she is just another politician when she says she will serve for 6, and then doesn't. I am also curious as to how some of her new positions will play in NY. A tough race may make her back away, and when she tries to come back to them, she will be vulnerable to the old, "Who is she?" question. BTW - She was never particularly well liked in Arkansas, but always supported Bill and said the right things.

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#18)
    by BigTex on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:05 PM EST
    Gotta take the more cynical view. She (Pirro) isn't trying to run against Clinton, she is a set up (wo)man for Cox. If Cox can't defeat her in a primary, then he will be useless to bash Clinton with. If he is able to defeat her he'll be able to tangle with Clinton better since he's already had to be baptised by fire. Also, this allows the GOP to open lines of debate for after the primary. This way they get their ideas out in the open and set a piece of the debate. Also with two candidates they can bring more issues to light. The idea is to bash Clinton, no doubt she will win the race, but it's not certain that Pirro is the gal slated for the job. As far as what's in it hor her? A primary will get her name out in the public for any future run, a war chest to carry over into a future run, a base of contributors for a future run, and the gratitude of the GOP establishment.

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#19)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:05 PM EST
    Not that I feel Hillary is doing a bang up job as my senator, she's voting for a lot of the crap I can't stand, as always it's the lesser of two evils. The republican stonghold in govt. must be stopped, if Hillary is the best shot in 08, springboard away!

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#20)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:05 PM EST
    kdog- I agree. She gets points for changing her mind and voting against the recent Energy Bill. The republicans are terrified of her and for good reason. I think she is superstar material.

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#21)
    by swingvote on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:06 PM EST
    CP, Still can't fathom that I'm not a Republican? What's the matter, still stinging from your embarassing outburst about Washington DC being run by Congress, never mind that it has its own local government and has for over 30 years? There is no straw man here. I asked a couple of people from New York what they thought of Pirro's argument. They answered. You are of course welcome to put your two cents in, but it's hardly necessary to revert to the standard liberal screed about strawmen and talking points to do so (or maybe it is if that's all you have to say on any given day). As for whether I can read Hillary's mind: I don't need to. TalkLeft did it for me. Try reading the posts before making comments and you won't be tasting your sneakers so often. Jackl, As I noted to Kdog, I may well vote for Hillary myself should she run in 08 and should the Republicans nominate Jeb Bush or someone equally as daft. Not being a Republican, or a Democrat, I feel free to judge people by their character and their proposals, not just their party label. I haven't been a fan of the woman, but we could do worse. And chances are, if she is the Democratic nominee, the Republicans will offer us worse, like they did in 96. Kdog, I know what you mean about the lesser of two evils, and that is the basic problem I see with our system. I voted for that dingbat Perot in 92, not because I thought he would make a good president, but because I believed that even if he was the worst president in history, electing him would be a good thing if it made the two major label parties wake up and realize that the neverending stream of political retreads has got to end. Sadly, as shown in 96 (Dole), and 2000 (Gore) and 2004 (Kerry), that didn't work out. So instead we got Bush, a relative novice, and we've all seen how that worked out. Good luck with Hillary. Maybe when she gets serious about 08 she'll start trending back leftward for you.

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#22)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:07 PM EST
    Not as leftward as you may think jpaul. Left is less important to me than a true belief in freedom and less govt. intrusion in our daily lives (Hillary strikes out on both counts, but so will the Republican opponent I'm sure). Much like you I imagine, it leaves me with little to vote for every election. If everyone, right and left, stopped being satisfied with their little phyrric victories and looked at the big picture, maybe things would change.

    Re: Jeanine Pirro to Challenge Hillary in Senate R (none / 0) (#23)
    by swingvote on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:07 PM EST
    "a true belief in freedom and less govt. intrusion in our daily lives" Now that's something I'd vote FOR.