Maloney Has No Friends

Congresswoman faces tough road ahead

A week after her use of the "N-word" earned her a public skewering from offended parties across the Empire State, Rep. Carolyn Maloney is finding herself a little lonely.

Once eyed as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's prime rival for the Democratic seat in the U.S. Senate, Maloney faces a tough road ahead as she gets ready to announce her primary bid – and it's not just because she dropped the N-bomb.

High-profile people in Washington have already said they didn't want to see a primary race. President Barack Obama gave a personal call to Rep. Steve Israel, who had the biggest bankroll to challenge Gillibrand, and asked him to back out, which he did.

Even the women's groups who have supported Maloney throughout her eight terms in Congress are stepping to the sidelines. But it's not because they don't back her. It's just that they don't want her to run against Gillibrand, says a key Democratic fundraiser.

"I think there's a puzzlement as to why she would throw this all away to challenge another woman, in this instance a younger woman, who has sort of inherited much of the Clinton organization of volunteers and support," Ricki Lieberman, who supplied a major boost to former Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaigns, told The New York Post.

"So I think there's not so much pressure but a hope of raising these issues with her and some of her supporters and saying, 'What's this all about?' This is going to cost a great deal of money, it's already gotten nasty," Lieberman said.

Gillibrand's had the advantage from the beginning, backed by Sen. Chuck Schumer, who regularly flexes his muscles in Washington, the Clinton political machine and most of the state's political players. The side-choosing has mostly stemmed from an eagerness to avoid a primary that would hurt the Democratic nominee in the 2010 general election. 

A Maloney campaign adviser blames Gillibrand loyalists for creating "this misperception that people don't want Maloney to run" because they're afraid their candidate can be beaten.

Campaign manager Richard Fife assured the Post that Maloney is ready for the fight, despite the political weight stacked against her.

But it's the congresswoman's foot-in-the-mouth episode with the N-word last week – not lack of political muscle -- that may be her biggest problem.

During a recent interview with City Hall News, Maloney was taking issue with her future opponent's stance on English-only education.

"I got a call from someone from Puerto Rico, [who] said [Gillibrand] went to Puerto Rico and came out for English-only [education]. And he said, 'It was like saying n----- to a Puerto Rican,'" said Maloney, pronouncing the offending term in full.

Maloney apologized for using the slur ahead of most of the backlash, but it may not make a difference. Gillibrand backers say Maloney's beating herself.   

While Maloney's advisers say the congresswoman is on track to announce her primary bid this week, other sources have said she's not so sure, according to the Post.

That uncertainty has some supporters concerned. If she does toss her hat into the ring, she'll have to relinquish her House seat, and if she doesn’t, her political career could suffer irrevocable "damage," a source told the Post.

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