Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is expected to move toward launching a 2020 presidential campaign within days by forming an exploratory committee, according to several people familiar with her plans.
The New York Democrat will likely announce her intentions ahead of a trip to Iowa this weekend, one person said. She will be a guest Tuesday night on a CBS talk show.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak on Gillibrand’s timing. Gillibrand’s representatives didn’t comment Monday on her plans.
Gillibrand would become the fifth Democrat — and second senator — to jump into a presidential primary that could ultimately feature dozens of candidates. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts along with former Obama Cabinet member Julian Castro and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii are among those who have taken steps toward a 2020 run. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California could also enter the race soon.
While Gillibrand’s prominence as a face of her party has grown, she faces a tough battle to capture the attention of Democratic voters in a crowded field that’s expected to include multiple women. Several of her potential rivals have spent more time in critical primary states while Gillibrand has visited one — New Hampshire — in October to stump for the Democratic candidate for governor.
She’s expected to move quickly this week to make connections in the leadoff caucus state of Iowa. She’s scheduled to headline a meeting with Democratic activists in Sioux City on Friday evening. The event is to be held at a private home with top donors to the Woodbury County Democratic Party.
Gillibrand has been in touch with some Iowa Democrats and enlisted the help of Lara Henderson, who was finance director for Fred Hubbell, the 2018 Democratic candidate for governor. But she hasn’t built up a network in the state to the degree of prospective rivals, including Booker and Harris.
She was appointed to the Senate in 2009 to succeed Hillary Clinton, who became secretary of state. She then easily won a special election in 2010 and re-election in 2012 and 2018.
Gillibrand has $10.6 million in her campaign fund, which can be used to jump-start a presidential bid. In recent weeks, Gillibrand has worked to expand her fundraising network and improve her standing among key voting blocs, including African-American voters.
Gillibrand has faced criticism in the Jewish community over her association with some people considered anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, including her having referred to Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory as “extraordinary women.” Sarsour is an anti-Israel activist and Mallory is an admirer of Louis Farrakhan. In an interview with Hamodia in October, Gillibrand said that her admiration of Sarsour and Mallory was specifically related to their work in the women’s rights movement, and that she disagrees with their views on Israel and Farrakhan.
During her recent re-election campaign, Gillibrand said she would not be running for president.
Asked by Hamodia in October, “If you’re elected, will you serve your full six-year term in the Senate?” Gillibrand replied, “Yes, that’s my intention.”
During a debate on Oct. 25, Gillibrand said, “I will serve my six-year term.”
Her Republican opponent, Chele Farley, replied, “Honestly, I don’t believe that, considering this is the third day that she has been in New York during the month of October when she has been in five other states including New Hampshire this month.”