Burstein served as a state senator representing Queens in the 1970s. She later moved into the administration of former Gov. Mario Cuomo as the Chairwoman and Executive Director of the State Consumer Protection Board. Burstein then served as the Auditor General of New York City and then as a Judge of the New York City Family Court.
Burstein resigned her judgeship in 1994 to seek the Democratic nomination for state attorney general. In the primary she faced Attorney General G. Oliver Koppell, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, and former prosecutor Eliot Spitzer. She won the primary and faced former U.S. Attorney Dennis Vacco of Buffalo in the general election. A week before the election, then Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari announced that she was not qualified to serve as attorney general because she is a lesbian. The combination of Molinari's remarks, a strong national Republican showing, and the win of George Pataki in the governor's race, lead to Vacco narrowly defeating Burstein.
Burstein has since become an attorney in New York City. She unsuccessfully sought the office of Judge of the New York County Surrogate's Court since her defeat in the attorney general's race. In June 2006, she endorsed former White House staffer Sean Patrick Maloney for the Democratic nomination for state attorney general.
Burstein's brother is an actor and children's health advocate known as Slim Goodbody.
She is currently a practicing attorney and an adjunct professor of Political Science at the State University of New York at Purchase College
1994 New York State Democratic TicketEdit
- Governor: Mario Cuomo
- Lieutenant Governor: Stan Lundine
- Comptroller: Carl McCall
- Attorney General: Karen Burstein
- U.S. Senate: Daniel Patrick Moynihan
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