Kirsten Elizabeth Rutnik Gillibrand ( ; born December 9, 1966) is an American politician and the junior United States Senator from New York, in office since 2009. Previously, she served in the United States House of Representatives, representing New York’s 20th congressional district . She is a member of the Democratic Party. In December 2008, President-elect Barack Obama nominated Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, leaving an empty seat in the New York senate delegation. After two months and many potential names considered, Governor David Paterson appointed Gillibrand to fill the seat. Gillibrand was required to run in a special election in 2010, which she won with 63% of the vote. She was re-elected to a full six-year term in 2012 with 72% of the vote, the highest margin for any statewide candidate in New York. A member of the Democratic Party’s relatively conservative Blue Dog faction while in the House, Gillibrand has been seen as a progressive since her appointment to the Senate. In both cases, her views were significantly defined by the respective constituency she served at the time —a conservative congressional district versus the generally liberal state of New York. For example, while quiet on the U.S. military’s „Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy when she was in the House, during her first 18 months in the Senate, Gillibrand was an important part of the successful campaign to repeal it.