Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York is reportedly exploring a potential 2020 presidential run and has reached out to Wall Street executives to gauge their support, according to CNBC.
Gillibrand has personally been working the phones and calling senior executives at Wall Street firms in recent weeks to see whether they would back her campaign if she jumps into the race, according to two senior business leaders who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Donors in the financial community helped back Gillibrand’s successful re-election bid last year. Her effort to connect with business leaders this time comes as she contemplates entering what will likely be an expensive and protracted Democratic primary.
CNBC reports that Wall Street’s response to Gillibrand has been a mixed bag: while some executives have appeared enthusiastic, others have been reluctant to return the lawmaker’s phone calls.
Part of that hesitation is a response to Gillibrand’s quick call for the resignation of former Senator Al Franken (D-MN) in 2017 after he was accused of sexual assault.
“While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve,” she said at the time through a Facebook post. Gillibrand’s comments led to several other women in the Senate demanding Franken to step down, including at least one other prospective 2020 presidential candidate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
Franken supporters in the business community argue Gillibrand should have allowed the eventual Senate Ethics Committee investigation to conclude before rushing to demand the resignation of the Minnesota lawmaker. They also believe he was a champion for women during his time in the senate.
Gillibrand’s outreach to Wall Street also comes at a time when grassroots fundraising is increasingly popular, both among politicians and the American public.
Glen Caplin, a spokesman for Gillibrand, insisted that if the lawmaker from New York ran for president she would build her operation off of grassroots fundraising and would not confirm or the deny her efforts to reach out to Wall Street leaders.
“If Senator Gillibrand decides to run, she will run a campaign that takes no corporate PAC money and is powered by grassroots donations, and based on her values of standing up to those in power and returning our democracy to the people where it belongs,” Caplin said in a statement to CNBC.
Gillibrand also pointed out her record on votes related to Wall Street regulation:
Though Gillibrand’s success in what promises to be a crowded Democratic primary remains to be seen, current polling suggests she has much work to do compared to the likes of Joe Biden, who is also rumored to run and currently a favorite among Democratic voters.
According to a recent CNN poll, she garnered 1 percent of the vote after participants were asked who they preferred to carry the party mantle in 2020. She is not doing much better in the early caucus state of Iowa. A CNN/ Des Moines Register/ Mediacom poll shows she only picked up 1 percent of the vote from likely Democratic caucus voters in the state. Iowa’s caucuses will kick off the presidential contest season in January 2020.