Yesterday marked the start of the confirmation process that almost certainly will make New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton the next secretary of state. But it also marks the beginning of the end of the deliberations by Gov. David Paterson to name her replacement in the Senate.
We all know about Caroline Kennedy and her, you know, interest in succeeding Clinton. Despite her rocky few weeks, Kennedy is still under serious consideration very serious. But also getting a serious look is Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand. Despite her low standing in the latest Quinnipiac Poll (state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is tops with those surveyed), Gillibrand's a big blip on Paterson's radar screen.
Gillibrand is now serving her second term representing New York's 20th Congressional District (which stretches across 10 upstate counties, including Saratoga and Dutchess). She sits on the House Armed Services Committee and the Agriculture Committee. And she has made openness a hallmark of her tenure by putting her public schedule on the web most days and disclosing earmarks for her district that have accrued to its benefit. If Paterson selects Gillibrand, he gets a young upstater on a ticket currently dominated by downstate pols. But there are some downsides to choosing her.
Paterson would certainly tick off every other member of the New York congressional delegation who has toiled for years, if not decades, and feel they should be rewarded. Gillibrand's seat is not in a safe Dem district. She won her first race in 2006 by six points. I chalk up her 24-point trouncing of her Republican challenger in 2008 to the power of incumbency. Because her district trends Republican, state Democrats fear her seat would be ripe for the picking in 2010. They also fear
that Gillibrand couldn't hold the Senate seat in the 2010 special election, which she'd have to win to complete Clinton's term, or, if she got that far, in 2012, when she'd have to run for a full term.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, New York is one of the bluest of the blue states. But a well-financed downstate Republican challenger with decent name recognition (read, Long Island Rep. Pete King) could give the Democrats a scare, which could turn into their worst nightmare if President-elect Obama's economic recovery plan proves ineffective or the sacrifices he's asking Americans to make prove to be too much to bear and his popularity plummets.
Look, at the end of the day, Paterson will select someone who is best for the state -- and who is best for him as he seeks election to his own full term as governor in 2010. Gillibrand may be a fine person. I just don't see how having a little-known, two-term member of Congress boosts either of Paterson's considerations.
Posted by: AZANNE | January 14, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: billmcg1 | January 14, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ozpunk | January 14, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: CNY-DC | January 14, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rook71 | January 14, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: DemocracyRules | January 14, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: VictoriaBalfour | January 14, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: kamdog | January 14, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: eyepublius | January 14, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ravitchn | January 14, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: robert23 | January 14, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: robertjames1 | January 15, 2009 1:02 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: VictoriaBalfour | January 15, 2009 6:38 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: kateinNY | January 15, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: kateinNY | January 15, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: CormacNYC | January 15, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: kateinNY | January 15, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.