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Larchmont Mayor Weighing US Senate Run

Is Larchmont’s mayor, Liz Feld, considering a run for the New York Senate seat now held by Kirsten Gillibrand? That’s what Sal Gentile of  The Capital reported on Tuesday, November 24.

Yesterday, Ms. Feld was not answering questions.  But on Wednesday morning, she told the Gazette she would be commenting later, “while I’m brining the Thanksgiving turkey.” By noon, she had released the following:

“I am actively considering a run for the United States Senate and expect to make a final decision sooner rather than later. The ever-growing debt coming out of Washington is alarming.  It will have serious implications for New York and for the next generation of Americans. Priority number one in this country has to be debt reduction and long-term tax relief. That will be the major focus of my campaign should I formally enter this race.”

There were no further details, for now.

More Through Anonymous Sources

According to The Capital story, an anonymous source “with knowledge of Feld’s plans” said the mayor is in “the exploratory phase, talking to funders and putting out initial conversations to party leaders around New York and Washington.” The source opined that there was “a feel that’s out there” that Ms. Feld, 48, a pro-choice mom of three, would be “a great match-up against Gillebrand,” 43, another “working mom.”

Should Ms. Feld decide on a Senate run, she may have some serious opposition from her own party. Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Guiliani and former New York Governor George Pataki are two possibilities. However, should they decline to run, the field could be open for a fresh face, or so The Capital’s sources suggest.

A Fresh Face

Ms. Feld would definitely be a new face for most New York voters. Though she once worked in communications for the George H. W. Bush White House, her only political race outside of the tiny Village of Larchmont was a 2008 failed attempt against New York State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer.

Ms. Feld was trounced by around 2-1. She even lost the Village of Larchmont, where Ms. Oppenheimer got 57% to the mayor’s 42%.

However, that was in a presidential election year in which Democratic candidates breezed to victory with Barack Obama’s wind beneath their wings.

Since then, Ms. Feld has gone back to serving as Larchmont’s mayor, where she is the only Republican on the five-person board. She has also continued to issue statements and support Republican candidates as a member of New Yorker’s for Growth, a political action committee focused on lowering taxes.

In Larchmont, Ms. Feld enjoys cordial or better relationships with her Democratic trustees, having run in 2004 and 2006 on a coalition slate with Democrats Marlene Kolbert, the deputy mayor, and Jim Millstein, who left Larchmont recently to serve with the Obama Treasury Department.

However, Ms. Feld has burned a few bridges with many local Republicans (by challenging the incumbent, Ken Bialo, in 2004) and local Democrats (especially after a controversial postcard in her NY Senate run).

As a pro-choice, “moderate” Republican, she might be able to woo a chunk of Democrats and independents, but she might have major problem with conservatives – even, or especially, those from her own party.  National GOP conservative groups having been stepping into local races in support of their kind of candidates – even when that risks losing to the Democrats. (That’s how Bill Owens recently became the first Democrat in generations to represent New York’s 23rd Congressional district.)

Decision Point: January or Sooner?

So, given all these difficulties, is Ms. Feld serious about the U.S. Senate? Or is her announcement a way to garner attention for a less difficult challenge – like another run for the NY Senate?

The next few months are likely to sort things out. In March, there is a mayoral election in the Village of Larchmont. Ms. Feld hasn’t yet said whether she will run again. A decision is due, at the latest, in January.

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11 comments to Larchmont Mayor Weighing US Senate Run

  • Excellent analysis. Liz feld seems to be trying to ride the wave of Astorino’s win — I thought — to another run against Oppenheimer. In 2010 — an off year — I think Oppenheimer is vulnerable — she may even be vulnerable to a primary challenge — everyone despises the NYS Senate — and while Oppenheimer is not in league with Monserrate, Espada, et al… she has been there for 25 years. Many believe it’s time for a fresh face.

    The talk of taking on Gillibrand will serve Feld well in the short term. But if Feld actually commits to a US Senate race — it will be a much more difficult climb than the NYS Senate race. There’s not much that separates Feld and Gillibrand ideologically — and any Republican running for a House or US Senate seat in NY will get painted as being in sync with the national GOP wackos led by Palin, Bachmann, Hannity, Limbaugh and Beck. Gillibrand is a fundraising force to be reckoned with as well.

  • Mayflower

    I think it’s great that Mayor Liz Noyer Feld is considering a run for the U.S. Senate. She certainly has experience in politics and has carried on her family’s legacy as Mayor of Larchmont for several generations past and present.

    Isn’t it a bit of irony that a Gazette editorial would refer to Larchmont as the “tiny village of Larchmont” when that very same Gazette has recently cited that at least three different “Larchmonters” (all are male) have recently been tapped to serve in prestigious positions under the current White House Administration? While I agree, Larchmont may be “tiny”, but it’s certainly not short on talent.

    Liz is intelligent, hard working and popular; she’s a real go getter. These are attributes that most people find admirable and worthy of leadership positions. She certainly has politics in her bloodline all the way back to her high school days when she was the Senior class President at MHS.

    She’s a moderate Pro-choice Republican, I should think that her constituents from Larchmont would rally around to support her decision; as a lifelong resident, I’m sure she will have the best interests in mind.

    Larchmont residents should take pride rather than consternation when one of their own sets their sights on ambitious yet achievable goals. It is certainly time for change. On the otherhand, I question the motivations of any politician, Democrat or Republican, that doesn’t recognize when it’s time to pass the torch and move on after more than 25 years in the same office.

  • Republicans will not win in the Senate in New York State.

  • Fast Eddie

    Tough race for Liz…it’s a very Democratic state.

    Anybody remember Kirsten Gillibrand – when she was known by her maiden name, Tina Rutnik – when she lived on Devon Rd.? She was there about 4 years or so…but I’ve yet to see the new Senator make any connection to her Larchmont days.

    • Bewildered

      That is remarkable Fast Eddie. Tell me: how do you get Kirsten Gillibrand out of the name Tina Rutnik? Are they really one in the same? I know women change their last names when they get married but the first name too?

      Is this a political ploy so that no one remembers who she really was/is? was it that bad or just looking for a new twist?

      • Judy Silberstein

        See the Gazette article for more insight on Senator Gillibrand:

        New US Senator Used to Live in Larchmont

        by Judy Silberstein

        (February 23, 2009) Ever since Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed on January 23 by Governor David L. Paterson to fill Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat, there have been rumors of a Larchmont connection. That connection has now been confirmed: according to Rachel McEneny, a senior advisor to the new senator, Ms. Gillibrand, then known as Tina Rutnick, lived on Devon Road in Larchmont from 1996 to 2000. She would walk to and from Larchmont’s train station on her way to and from work as an attorney at Davis Polk in Manhattan.

        Ms. Rutnick would jog through the streets of Larchmont and “go on walks in the park with her then-boyfriend, now-husband Jonathan,” reported Ms. McEneny. Her favorite restaurant for special occasions was Lusardis.

        During the last eight months she owned the Devon Road home, she was barely in Larchmont. At that point she was mostly in Washington, DC, working at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

        Following her marriage in 2001, she and her husband bought a home in Greenport, NY.

        Judy Myers, now a Westchester County legislator for the district that includes Larchmont and Mamaroneck, recalls meeting Ms. Gillibrand when both were attending the Women’s Campaign School at Yale and Ms. Gillibrand was pregnant with her first child. During a round of introductions, Ms. Gillibrand said “I want to run for Congress.”

        “And she did,” said Ms. Myers. In 2006, Ms. Gillibrand defeated a Republican incumbent to become the representative from U.S. Congressional District 20, a largely rural area that includes parts of the Hudson Valley, the Adirondacks and the Catskills.

        Senator Gillibrand, now 42, has two children, a 5-year-old and a 10-month-old.

        This month, the sudden transition from the House of Representatives to the Senate – coupled with intense attention from national and international media – has made it difficult for smaller outlets to reach Ms. Gillibrand and chase down rumors. “It’s been a busy time,” agreed Ms. McEneny.

        Senator Gillibrand’s schedule isn’t about to let up anytime soon. To keep her Senate seat, she has to prevail in a 2010 special election and again in the 2012 regular election.

        • Bewildered

          And so….back to my original question: how does Tina translate into Kirsten? I don’t see the connection in the two names. Sorry I’m still bewildered.. But thanks for reprinting the article.

          Is it an attempt to change her image possibly????

  • Lafayette

    It’s ironic Liz would run on a cost reduction platform, seeing how little she has done here in Larchmont regarding tax reduction. Five years on the job, she can’t blame it on her predecessor. No tough decisions, no out of the box thinking. Our property taxes are among the highest in the country. We have the same bloated village administration and services. A local friendly face is great, but I would expect more leadership from a candidate to the Senate.

    • PJ

      Lafayette, It is my belief that having union backing  her employees can spread the virus and help to get her where she’s going. I would like to know what is going on in Larchmont, with the paid union chief, his extended leave and the new promotions? Not much being said there. It is my firm belief the the FD part of her administration went to the dogs,and will not recover from it. That doesn’t mean I do not respect the guys running the show now,they are good men. My problem is she is trying to bring her own agenda and get majority, union votes. Going back to the time she ran against Mayor Bialo, the unions showed up! Keep in mind here that both the PD and FD unions stood outside the caucus for a Village election in numbers. Problem I had was in a village election only one or two were residents of the village. With new contracts being written and new ones on the way, look at the results. I do not think  she has served Larchmont well – in fact unless we get a new mayor, she has buried us. I did back her against Mr. Bialo, but she told me a line and I believed her, which included buyouts of current firefighters and the like. Point being, is she will cost us forever now what she started is perpetual until Larchmont is dissolved.

      PJ Abrahamsen former 1st Dep Chief LFD  Volunteer

  • Jo

    Bewildered,
    Doesn’t really answer your question but we moved to Larchmont in late 2000 and for a few years would occasionally get calls to our phone number asking for Kirsten Rutnik – guess it was Ms. Gillibrand’s old number.

  • Bewildered

    Thanks Jo, I appreciate your insight and input :-)