Undergraduate education: Dartmouth College
Graduate education: University of California - Los Angeles
Kirsten Gillibrand was born in Albany, N.Y., and now lives in Brunswick. She received a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College and earned a law degree at the University of California-Los Angeles.
She served as a law clerk for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.
During President Bill Clinton's administration, Gillibrand served as special counsel to Andrew Cuomo, the former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
She was an associate with the firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, and later a partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner.
Gillibrand was elected to the U.S. House in 2006.
She was appointed to the U.S. Senate in January 2009 after then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton became secretary of state.
Gillibrand and her husband, Jonathan, have two sons.
Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to her Senate seat in 2009, elected to it in 2010 and is now running for a full six-year term.
Polls favor Gillibrand in the race against her little-known Republican challenger, Wendy Long. Gillibrand faces voters for the second time in two years because the 2010 election was for the right to finish the term of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who became secretary of state in 2009.
When she was appointed, Gillibrand was an unknown pro-gun Democrat from a rural Republican district. She soon moved to the left on guns and some other issues, explaining that her views broadened as she transitioned from representing one rural district to the entire state. She has spent much of her three years in the Senate traveling New York and building statewide support. She has taken high-profile roles in support of gay rights and legislation to provide benefits to Sept. 11 responders.
As a member of the Senate committees dealing with agriculture and armed services, she has focused on two issues important to upstate New York.
"This job is all about solving problems," she said, "and so the problems are many for New York right now."
Once seen as vulnerable, Gillibrand's poll numbers are up and she recently reported a healthy $10 million in her campaign account. Republicans have not managed to draw a big-name challenger for Gillibrand in two election cycles. In 2010, she easily defeated Republican Joseph DioGuardi, a Westchester County congressman who lost his seat in 1988.
Long, a New York City attorney, is making her first run for elected office. She stressed her conservative positions in winning a three-way Republican primary and now faces a statewide electorate in which Democrats outnumber Republicans by 2-to-1. Long has lagged in fundraising.
At age 42, Gillibrand became the youngest member of the Senate and one of 17 women in the chamber. Then-Gov. David Paterson announced his choice a day after presumed front-runner Caroline Kennedy — a woman with considerably more star power but less experience — mysteriously dropped out of contention in an embarrassing turn of events that touched off sniping between the governor and the Kennedy camp.
Before the governor even took the podium to introduce Gillibrand, anti-gun crusader Rep. Carolyn McCarthy said she would challenge her in the Democratic primary in 2010, or find someone who would. McCarthy turned out to be one of a series of Democrats who considered — and then declined to follow through on — a challenge to Gillibrand.
Gillibrand has been helped by allies in the White House and by New York's senior senator, Charles Schumer. She worked tirelessly to solidify state party support, and faced no party challenges in 2012.
Gillibrand's political career began in 2006 with an upset win over incumbent GOP Rep. John Sweeney for New York's 20th District seat. The campaign was marked by disturbing allegations about Sweeney's personal life and professional ethics.
Committee Assignments: Environment and Public Works; Special Aging; Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; Armed Services
American Conservative Union Rating: 5
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 85
Recent winning percentages for office currently held: 63% (2010).
(Last updated by Michael Hill on July 10, 2012.)