June 26, 2018 - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Endorses Eleni Kounalakis for Lieutenant Governor of California


New York Senator highlights Kounalakis’ historic candidacy and potential to be the first woman elected Lt. Governor in California history

San Francisco, CA – Today, the Eleni Kounalakis for Lt. Governor campaign announced the endorsement of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). In her statement, Sen. Gillibrand praised Kounalakis’ lifetime of breaking barriers in business and government. 

“I am proud to support Eleni Kounalakis’ historic candidacy for California Lt. Governor,” said Gillibrand. “Eleni has spent her life breaking barriers - in business where she rose to the highest levels in a male dominated field and in government when she was the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary under President Obama. Eleni will make history as the first woman elected Lt. Governor, and in this year of the woman, her candidacy is a shining example to young girls across California and the country of all that we can achieve.”

“I am so honored to have the endorsement of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand,” said Kounalakis. “Sen. Gillibrand has fought for women throughout her career in the Senate - from fighting sexual assault in the military and on college campuses to passing legislation to ensure equal pay for equal work. When I am Lt. Governor, I will work to fortify protections for women in the workplace and ensure that young women and girls have an equal opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”

Kounalakis was the number one vote-getter in June’s Top Two primary. She has been endorsed by dozens of prominent Democratic elected officials and organizations, like U.S. Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, the California Federation of Teachers, the California League of Conservation Voters, EMILY’s List, Equality California, NARAL Pro-Choice California, Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, California State University Employees Union SEIU 2579, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr., Representatives Nanette Barragan, Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, Doris Matsui, Jerry McNerney, Jimmy Panetta, Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, and Mike Thompson, Assemblymembers Blanca Rubio and Kevin McCarty, Los Angeles City Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Nury Martinez, CA Women’s List, and over 20 Democratic clubs across California.

Kounalakis is the only Democratic woman in the race for Lt. Governor and would be the first woman elected Lt. Governor in California history. 

Her blend of experience as a successful business woman, economic advisor, and job creator, as well her government experience as a U.S. Ambassador, make her uniquely qualified to serve as Lt. Governor. 

Kounalakis kicked off her campaign in 2017 by visiting all 58 counties. She spent the summer and fall traveling across the state, meeting with Democratic central committees, clubs, and activists, and community leaders. She has received support from hundreds of delegates to the CDP convention and has built a base of grassroots support that helped her place first in the primary and will help her win in November.

Kounalakis is a business woman and diplomat. She was appointed by President Barack Obama as Ambassador to Hungary in 2010. She is a life-long Democrat and five-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention and worked as an advocate for early childhood education as a member of California's First 5 Commission and the Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.

She was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to lead the California International Trade and Investment Advisory Council and served as a member of the First 5 Commission, where she worked to provide and improve opportunities for early childhood education. Prior to serving our country in the diplomatic corps, she was president of AKT Development Corporation in Sacramento, where she helped deliver tens of thousands of affordable homes for middle-class families. Kounalakis was born and raised in Sacramento and is a graduate of the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and Dartmouth College. She and her husband, Markos, live in San Francisco where they are raising their two teenage sons.