WASHINGTON–Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand D-N.Y. in Chicago for fundraising to benefit her “Off the Sidelines” political action committee, devoted to electing more women to office, headlined an event Monday morning for Cook County Board Member Bridget Gainer’s warchest. That’s a lot of political firepower for a county official–a big name popular out-of-state senator. But Gillibrand likes to help Democratic women lower on the political ladder in order to get them in a position to eventually move up.

The reception was at the Chicago Cut Steakhouse at 300 N. LaSalle, and attracted about 100. The price points ranged from $250 to $1,000. Gainer did not have a tally yet of the proceeds when we talked on Monday.

Gillibrand’s spokesman told me she has raised $1.8 million for female candidates so far this cycle with the assistance coming in four ways:  a Gillibrand e-mail appeal for someone; writing checks from her Off the Sidelines PAC; joint fundraising, or, as she did for Gainer on Monday, headlining an event for a candidate. 

Gainer told me she met Gillibrand when Gillibrand was in the House, raising money in Chicago; they met through Judy Gold, a major Chicago Democratic activist and fundraiser.  Gainer went on to become a Gillibrand donor, writing a $500 check for Gillibrand for Senate on June 20, 2012. The two women, both mothers of youngsters and about the same age, hit it off with a mutual interest in pension and juvenile justice issues.

Gillibrand, said Gainer, offered to help her out when she was in town and Gainer took her up on it. ”She graciously gave me an hour of her time,” Gainer said.

Gillibrand, mentioned as a possible 2016 White House contender if Hillary Rodham Clinton does not run, hits Chicago regularly. My post on Chicago Democrats who are big fundraisers helping  Gillibrand raise money in April, 2013 in Chicago is HERE. Last November Gillibrand was in Chicago to be the keynoter at a benefit for Personal PAC. 

That same November day last year, there was also a fundraiser for her at the AON headquarters on East Randolph. Gainer is Vice President of Global Public Affairs for Aon so its clear the networking is mutually beneficial.

Gainer, who represents a North Side Chicago board district is assured re-election in November. She so far has no GOP opponent on the ballot.

In the 2012 cycle, Gillibrand’s “Off the Sidelines” PAC donated more than $1 million to 15 House and Senate candidates, mostly women–and aims to double the contributions in the 2014 cycle.