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New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Her Husband Met on a Blind Date

Evan Ross Katz
Photo credit: Instagram
Photo credit: Instagram

From Oprah Magazine

Kirsten Gillibrand is no stranger to the spotlight as a New York Senator (succeeding Hillary Clinton) and former congresswoman. She’s one of the high-profile figures in the mix of Democratic contenders for the 2020 Presidential nomination—and she’s gearing up for the second round of debates in Detroit on July 30 and 31.

Unlike the spouses of many politicians, Gillibrand’s British husband, Jonathan Gillibrand, often stays behind the scenes, leaving the flashing lights and interviews to his other half. If Kirsten were to become President of the United States, he’d become the First Gentleman.

Jonathan Gillibrand is a businessman.

He has no social media presence, has given few if any on-the-record interviews, and stays largely away from campaign-related events thus far. Born in the United Kingdom, Jonathan first came to the U.S. to study for his MBA at Columbia University with every intention to return home after his studies were complete. (But fate, clearly, had another plan.) He’s worked at venture capital firms such as Redbrick Partners and at his own, Venture Capital Partners.

Photo credit: Drew Angerer - Getty Images
Photo credit: Drew Angerer - Getty Images

He and Kirsten met on a blind date.

Photo credit: Drew Angerer - Getty Images
Photo credit: Drew Angerer - Getty Images

A 2009 New York profile claimed that the couple met in 1999 when Jonathan was dating a friend of Kirsten’s. According to the piece, when things ended between the two, Kirsten asked her friend if it was okay if she pursued Jonathan.

However, Kirsten herself told a different version of events when asked about their meeting years later. According to her, the pair first met while Jonathan was at Columbia University and Kirsten was a young lawyer at Davis Polk, a global law firm. “We were set up on a blind date and we hit it off right away,” she told New York Family in 2013.

“I thought he was one of the nicest and kindest people I’d ever met,” she told Vogue in 2010, recalling their initial meeting. “That’s what charmed me.” They pair married in 2001.

Photo credit: Zach Gibson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Zach Gibson - Getty Images

In the years since, Kirsten does not shy away from answering questions about Jonathan despite his low profile, calling him a very supportive husband, one who believes in the difference that his wife can make in the political realm. “He’s always said, ‘As long as you’re making a difference, as long as you’re helping people, this is something we’re going to do. And the day that you’re not is the day we’re not going to do it!’” she told New York Family.

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In December 2018, Kirsten was all smiles, celebrating her 52nd birthday with Jonathan by her side. “It was such a joy to read through all of your warm wishes yesterday. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to every member of this team. And of course, thank you to my family – Jonathan and my boys, Theo and Henry – for making this another wonderful birthday,” she wrote on Instagram.

The couple have two children together.

Two years after they wed, in 2003, Kirsten gave birth to their first son, Theo. In 2008, she gave birth to their second son, Henry. "They’re both sensitive boys, very sensitive of other people, but very different in personality,” she told New York Family. “Henry is much more like me, and Theo is much more like Jonathan."

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"We’re very much the yin and the yang," she went on to tell the magazine about their parenting style, citing herself as the encouraging parent. “I like to let my children express themselves and explore new things…Jonathan is very focused on academics and reading. So we balance each other well in letting our children develop as young people who will hopefully be strong adults with strong character and good integrity."

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“We are so blessed and we love you! Happy Father’s Day, Jonnie!” Kirsten wrote on Instagram with a picture of the family earlier this year.

Jonathan is supportive, but protective of his wife.

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“Not many husbands want their wives to be in politics, because it’s intense,” she told Vogue. “The only thing he doesn’t like is when I’m attacked. He gets very upset.” How will Jonathan handle the onslaught of attacks that come with the territory of running for the highest office in the land? Only time will tell as Kirsten advances along in the long slog to the Democratic nomination.

Photo credit: Jerod Harris - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jerod Harris - Getty Images

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