Daniel O'Donnell, the gay brother of out former talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell, easily won a four-way race Tuesday for a New York State assembly seat representing Manhattan's upper west side. The 41-year-old O'Donnell, a tenants' rights lawyer, became the assembly's first openly gay member and the state's third openly gay legislator. O'Donnell said the win fulfills a 33-year goal. He said he decided at age 8, when the murder of Robert F. Kennedy resulted in the cancellation of his morning cartoons and made his mother cry, that he wanted to be a politician. "This is something I've wanted to do my entire life," O'Donnell said.
O'Donnell, the second of five siblings, remembers discussing politics during family dinners while growing up in Commack, N.Y., on Long Island. "My mother was pro-choice in 1970, when it was not popular for an Irish Catholic to be pro-choice," he said. He became a public defender after graduating from City University of New York Law School in 1987, as preparation for an eventual career in politics. "Becoming an elected official is a natural extension," he said.