He only planned to leave the UK for a year to study in the US, but now he might find himself married to the next President.
Jonathan Gillibrand stood beside to his wife Kirsten last night as she threw her hat into the ring for the Democratic nomination in 2020.
Gillibrand, standing next to their two children Theodore, 15, and Henry, 10, said she would put family values front and center of her campaign: ‘I will fight for other people’s kids as hard as I fight for my own.’
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand launched her bid to become President of the United State on Tuesday, backed by her British husband Jonathan, their sons Theodore (left) and Henry (right) and her mother Polly
Gillibrand put family front and centre of her campaign, vowing to ‘fight for other people’s kids as hard as I fight for my own’
Gillibrand has been married to Jonathan for 18 years, having met him on a blind date while he was studying at Columbia and she was working at a law firm
Jonathan, 50, first met his ambitious wife, now 52, on a blind date in New York in 1999 while he was studying at Columbia and she was working at a law firm.
He had only intended to be in the US for a year, but changed his plans after they were set up by colleagues and ‘hit it off right away.’
‘I thought he was one of the nicest and kindest people I’d ever met. That’s what charmed me,’ she told Vogue in 2011.
The couple married in 2001 and settled in New York, where they bought a house together in the town of Hudson in 2003.
Shortly afterwards Kirsten gave birth to their first child, Theodore, with second son Henry following along five years later in 2008.
That was the same year Gillibrand entered the Senate – replacing Hillary Clinton – having swapped law for politics in 2006.
On the day Henry was born she spent 13 hours at a session of the Armed Services Committee, before going home and going into labor.
Meanwhile, Jonathan was making his way in the financial world, founding his own firm called Venture Capital Partners.
He also worked at Redbrick Partners where he sealed deals worth upwards of $10million, and in 2015 he brought home $89,000 working as a finance manager for GBS Holdings LLC.
Looking back on her career change in 2013, Gillibrand called Jonathan ‘a really supportive husband’ and said ‘he really believes in what I’m doing in Washington’.
But his attitude has not always been so positive, according to a family friend who spoke to New York Magazine in 2009, who said that Jonathan questioned what Gillibrand’s political ambitions would mean for him and the children.
Jonathan is now a venture capitalist working in New York, while Kirsten spends her time in Washington having swapped life as a lawyer for politics
Jonathan was reportedly nervous about his wife’s career switch, worrying about the impact on their children, but is now very supportive
Gillibrand has described her marriage to Jonathan like ‘yin and yang’, saying her outgoing personality is balanced by his more private, bookish attitude
‘When she was thinking of making her name available for the Senate, he said, “Sure, throw your hat in the ring,”‘ the friend said.
‘But he never thought she would get it. Now he’s freaked out about the loss of privacy and his wife traveling so much.’
But Gillibrand rebuffed the criticism, saying they decided it would be worth it because of the ‘extraordinary impact’ you can have as a senator.
Certainly, family life has become more hectic for the couple since Gillibrand delved into the world of politics, and they are now forced to split their time between New York – where his firm is based – and Washington, where she works.
The family currently live in Brunswick, where they moved in 2011 having sold their previous home for $1.3million.
The new home has five bedrooms, three bathrooms and a tennis court.
Describing Jonathan’s parenting style, she said he is ‘is very focused on academics and reading’ and takes after their eldest son.
‘[He] is more introverted. He’s someone who likes computers, who likes building—he’s a bit of an engineer. He has intense friendships that he really enjoys,’ she said of Theodore.
Meanwhile Henry takes after his mother, who she described as ‘the extrovert. He loves to go to parties, go out to dinner, meet people.’
However, Henry does have some of his father’s traits, such as a love of engineering and building, she added.
Jonathan’s own father worked as the non-executive chairman of engineering firm AMEC and following the 9/11 attacks was the lead contractor at Ground Zero.
In 2016 he gifted the family $500,000 as part of ‘estate planning’ for the future, according to reports at the time.
When it comes to their children, Gillibrand says Jonathan is much more like eldest son Theodore, while Henry takes after her
Gillibrand entered politics in 2006, rose to the Senate in 2009, and has been mentored by the likes of Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer
She announced her Presidential run on Stephen Colbert’s chat show, before making a second statement alongside her family
Gillibrand joins and already-crowded Democrat field that includes the likes of Elizabeth Warren, but could expand to encompass Bernie Sanders – who lost to Hillary Clinton in 2016 – and Beto O’Rourke, who almost unseated Ted Cruz in Texas.
Up until three months ago she had ruled herself out of running altogether, and while running for reelection to the Senate in 2018 she pledged to serve out her full term.
Her name began appearing on long-lists for presidential candidates during the last run as well, when she also denied having ambitions for the top spot.
However, speaking yesterday, she betrayed no meekness in her desires: ‘I’m going to run for president of the United States, because as a young mom I’m going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own – which is why I believe that health care should be a right and not a privilege.’
Her goals will include putting gender at the fore of her campaign, combatting ‘institutional racism,’ taking on special interests and entrenched systems of power in Washington, and fighting against political ‘corruption and greed.’
‘I know that I have the compassion, the courage, and the fearless determination to get that done,’ she added.
Gillibrand has been a vocal critic of Trump during his time in office, and took the opportunity yesterday to blame him for the government shutdown.
She said: ‘He shouldn’t be be having a temper tantrum because he can’t get what he wants.
Trump should talk to both parties about his vision for immigration reform, she said before adding: ‘Shutting down the government is hurting people. Right now he’s doing it because he wants his way.’
If Kirsten Gillibrand makes it all the way to the White House, her husband Jonathan will not only be the first US ‘First Guy’.
He will also be the third presidential spouse born outside the US, following Melania Trump, who was born in what is now Slovenia.
The first was Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams who was president from 1825 to 1829.
Louisa (nee Johnson) was born in London, to an English mother. However, her father hailed from Maryland and was the American Consul in London.