Tina Rutnik grew up in a small upstate NY community.
Her dad was a prominent lobbyist with close ties to the Republican Party.
Tina was a diligent student, attending Dartmouth College and majoring in Asian studies.
She also lived and studied in both Beijeng and Taiwan.
Tina adopted a new, Chinese name: Lu Tian Na, and learned to speak fluent Mandarin Chinese.
Upon returning to the states, Tina (Lu Tian) went out west to UCLA Law School and passed the bar in 1991.
She snared a job at a prominent Manhattan based law firm and became known for her tireless work as defense attorney for Philip Morris, defending the company in both criminal and civil racketeering probes.
Later attacked for her fierce defense of the tobacco giant, Tina said the money she made allowed her to take on pro bono cases on behalf of abused women.
Now using her legal first name and husband’s last name, Tina served as Special Counsel to HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo in the 1990s.
As the 21st century approached, Tina went to work for Hillary Clinton on her 2000 U.S. Senate campaign.
After Clinton won, Tina went back to work for a law firm representing The Altria Group__Philip Morris’ parent company.
In 2005, she left the law firm to run for a seat in Congress.
Running as a centrist Democrat in an ultra-right upstate NY district that had been under Republican control for almost a century, Tina campaigned against amnesty for illegal immigrants and vowed to protect citizens’ gun rights. Both Hillary and Bill Clinton campaigned for her.
Tina’s campaign released a police report claiming that her opponent’s wife called 911 because the candidate was “knocking his wife around the house.”
Her opponent vehemently denied the charge, saying Tina’s campaign was “a disgrace.”
Tina won with 53% of the vote, then was relected in 2008 by a stunning 24 point margin.
Soon after, President-elect Barak Obama appointed NY Senator Hillary Clinton as U.S. Secretary of State.
Most everyone believed that Caroline Kennedy would be named to replace Clinton, but then Governor David Patterson shocked everyone by naming Tina to fill the post.
Politicos in downstate NY were dumbfounded. Most had no idea who Tina was.
In 2009, Tina was sworn in as the youngest member of the Senate.
In the 2010 Senate election, Tina easily defeated her Republican opponent by a 63% to 35% margin.
Formerly known for her centrist views, Tina moved substantially to the left, leading the effort to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” She also led the charge to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act which gave financial relief to victims of the World Trade Center attack.
Tina is now 45 years old, married to a British national venture capitalist and has two young sons.
This week Tina, now known as Kirsten Gillibrand, was relected to the Senate with an astounding 72% of the vote.
If Hillary Clinton doesn’t run for President in 2016, many now believe the former Tina Rutnik may someday be elected as the first female President of the United States.