'The Woman for the Job': Kirsten Gillibrand Announces 2020 Bid—but How Good Are Her Chances?

Kirsten Gillibrand threw her hat into an already-crowded ring Tuesday night when she announced she was officially joining the 2020 presidential race on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, before describing herself as "the woman for the job" on Twitter.

The New York senator will have to fend off competition from fellow Democrats Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard and Julián Castro, who have already announced their bids.

Read more: Kirsten Gillibrand tells Stephen Colbert she's running for president

Prominent Democrats like Joe Biden, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, and up-and-comer Beto O'Rourke, who upset Texas politics last year when he came within 2.6 percentage points unseating incumbent Senator Ted Cruz, are all considered likely to join the race.

Among a crowd of strong contenders, Gillibrand stands out for a number of reasons: her particularly anti-Trump voting record, her vocal support for women's rights and her role in the resignation of former Senator Al Franken.

Gillibrand's unabashedly adversarial relationship with President Donald Trumpwho in December blasted her on Twitter as a "lightweight"—may win her favor with voters and fellow politicians particularly unhappy with the president. On New Year's Day, The Washington Post reported her Senate voting record was even more consistently anti-Trump than that of progressives Warren and Booker.

But she wasn't always the fierce liberal she's known as today. Gillibrand is a former corporate lawyer with "deep ties to Wall Street," according to The New York Times. She used to swing further to the right on issues like gun control and immigration in her days as a congresswoman, CNBC pointed out. This shift may well leave her open to accusations of opportunism, FiveThirtyEight suggested.

Today, she's known for rallying crowds at the Women's March and tweeting "the future is female." Last February, she told CBS News's 60 Minutes that she "couldn't have been more wrong" on gun control. As for immigration, Gillibrand said she was "embarrassed" and "ashamed" of her record.

Beyond her policies, actions in her past are sure to divide potential supporters. She was the first in her caucus to call on former Senator Al Franken to resign when several allegations of sexual misconduct emerged against the politician in late 2017. Once touted as a potential 2020 front-runner himself, Franken gave up his seat that December.

Although Gillibrand's efforts cemented her as an anti-Trump "champion of women," per the Times, Politico pointed out at the time that her quick-fire response to the allegations against Franken had riled some party donors. Her criticism of the politician came before the Senate Ethics Committee could review the claims against him.

A year after the scandal, Gillibrand said she was surprised people were still questioning her response. "I don't think America recognizes how far we still have to go [when it comes to women's rights], and I think maybe the Al Franken issue is just right at that fulcrum of our own uncertainty, because he was so well liked," Gillibrand told The Atlantic last December.

Another potentially divisive issue for Gillibrand is her ties to Hillary Clinton. She named the former secretary of state her "greatest role model in politics," on last year's 60 Minutes, having taken over her Senate seat and campaigned with the Clintons in the past.

Although Clinton still holds much support among Democrats, some have distanced themselves from the former presidential nominee—not least since she implied Trump voters were drawn by a backward-looking stance last March, The Washington Post previously reported.

Gillibrand's praise of Hillary Clinton has not left her immune to the scandals that dogged Bill Clinton's presidency. In the wake of the Franken scandal, she said Bill Clinton should have resigned during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

It's too early to guess who will win the next Democratic presidential nomination—not least since several hotly anticipated contenders have yet to announce their positions. But some commentators believe Gillibrand is within shot. As political consultant Bradley Tusk told CNBC after Gillibrand announced her bid: "She's very good at reading the media, reading the donors, reading the voters and pivoting to wherever she needs to be."

Kirsten Gillibrand, 2020 election, U.S. President, Democrats, Donald Trump
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, second from left, speaks as Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Senator Kamala Harris of California stand by a a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on September 28. Gillibrand threw her hat into an already-crowded 2020 presidential race. Alex Wong/Getty Images