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The Next Senator From New York Is....


New York Gov. David Paterson will choose the next Senator from New York

With Hilllary Rodham Clinton set to be announced as the next Secretary of State sometime soon after Thanksgiving, the race to replace her has already begun in earnest.

Senate seats in New York are a precious commodity with a powerful lineage -- Clinton, Robert F. Kennedy, etc. -- so every ambitious politician in the Empire State (literally) is being mentioned.

Ultimately, the choice lies with just one man -- Democratic Gov. David Paterson, who will fill the seat until a 2010 special election for the remaining two years of Clinton's term. Whoever wins in 2010 will have to stand for another election just two years later for a full six-year term.

With the prospect of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) as a statewide candidate sometime in the next few years -- though he seems more interested in governor than Senate at this point -- there are concerns that Paterson must choose someone who can win votes in the crucial battlegrounds of Upstate New York and Long Island.

Paterson also needs to think about his own re-election prospects; he ascended to the job following Gov. Elliot Spitzer's, um, indiscretions but has already announced that he will seek a full term in 2010. The idea of electing a woman, a Latino or an African-American could well appeal to Paterson as he seeks to fend off a potential primary challenge.

So, who's the front-runner? Here are the Fix's odds, based on a series of conversations with New York political sharps:

3-1: Thomas Suozzi. Suozzi is known nationally (to the extent he is known at all) as the guy who ran a quixotic primary challenge against Spitzer in 2006. With two years of hindsight, however, Suozzi, the Nassau County executive, looks better and better. Suozzi's geographic base (Long Island) is appealing for Democrats looking for a statewide winner, and Bill Cunningham, the top political aide to Paterson, is also extremely close to Suozzi.

5-1: Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand. Gillibrand, who knocked off embattled Rep. John Sweeney (R) in 2006, is a political dynamo who received the most votes of any New York incumbent (177,667) earlier this month. Gillibrand's geographic positioning in Upstate, coupled with her fundraising prowess ($4.6 million raised in the past two years) and the idea of replacing Clinton with another woman, makes her a top prospect.

8-1: Rep. Nita M. Lowey. It's no secret that Lowey would like to be in the Senate. She appeared headed that way eight years ago until Clinton decided she wanted to run and Lowey stepped aside. But at this point there are doubts that Lowey is really interested, at 71 years of age and with significant seniority in the House, and, even if so, whether she would be the long-term choice.

12-1: State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo, the son of the former New York governor, is the biggest name (outside of the Kennedys) in the potential field. And, with Paterson on course to run for a full term in 2010, the Senate could be a nice landing spot for Cuomo. And yet, few party insiders take the prospect of a Sen. Cuomo seriously -- and we don't know why.

20-1: Reps. Steve Israel and Brian Higgins. Israel, from Long Island, and Higgins, from western New York, are well regarded by the state's political establishment. Neither man, however, brings the "star power" that some New Yorkers expect out of their senators.

25-1: Reps. Greg Meeks and Nydia Velasquez. Both Members have a case to be made that a state as diverse as New York deserves a Senate delegation with more diversity in it. Meeks, an African American, has represented the Queens-area 6th district for the last decade while Velasquez, who is Hispanic, has held the 12th district since 1992.

30-1: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The idea of naming Kennedy to the same seat his father once held has sentimental appeal for many in the New York Democratic Party. Kennedy is still in the mix for a post in President-elect Barack Obama's administration -- head of the Environmental Protection Agency -- and so any Senate speculation is on hold. Some Democrats also harbor electability concerns about Kennedy, believing he is far too liberal to be elected statewide.

100-1: Caroline Kennedy. The most interest Kennedy has ever shown in politics surfaced with her endorsement of Obama this year and her subsequent service as a vice presidential vetter. This one ain't happening.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 24, 2008; 11:51 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

hey chris! love your guest spots on olbermann, and maddow!
heres a novel approach. the us constitution says a citizen must be 30 yrs old, and a resident when sworn in/elected.
since chelsea clinton is the obvious choice- another Clinton to add to the team, and "mom's"(Hilary) sure to approve if her #! Daughter was a Senator- think of all the good she could do-
heres an idea- I'm over 48- a college grad, with more active duty time than our Commander in Chief elect. due to the Economy, my business went "south".
I lived in Upstate NY when I was a child- so, i'm technically not a carpetbagger- ihave actual roots, however tenous( but since when did that ever stop anybody?)
Last tiem i dabbled in politics, it was Nevada- 2006, helping another "girl in the world" make a horse race of the Nevada GOV. Race.
So I pledge to run as a "Chelsea Proxy"- a straw man, an empty suit, as a stand-in for Clinton the younger.
until she turns 30- and decides if she wants the Senate seat. meanwhile, she will be my "girl friday"- #! staffer/asst- so she can direct me on how she wants votes to go- based on her more expert input, and of course, Charlie, Hillary, Nancy, Harry, bill, and of course the voting public.
It would be like "fear and Loathing in the Catskills- on the campaign trail 2010"- fiction imitating life, of sorts?
So how about it, y'all? got room for a squeaky clean,comparatively speaking; totally vettable, a vet, college grad, midwest hoosier boy with some time on his hands to visit the old home state?
This isnt without Precedent , of course- happens all the time in politics-
so till chelsea turns 30- I'd be happy to help another "girl in the world"
this is a trial baloon, of course, and i do have roots in NY, and have run for federal office before, so i know enough about FEC, and what i call "assymmetrical campaigns " to put in a good show.
But its up to young MS. Clinton. she had me at "hello"- giggle!
but seriously- how worse could things get beyond what we have here already in the US?
I mean really? "Roach" invades NY. film @ 11...tell olbermann, and maddow- and have them check around in the LV, NV media- see if dina titus has heard of me.or harry reid.. Vote for Roach!

Posted by: dcroach | November 26, 2008 2:48 AM | Report abuse

listen folks.... whatever happens, New York is done with Rodham Clinton and her antics. Appoint someone anyone, and they will be proud to represent New York. Rodham Clinton is up to her eyeballs in Hedge Funds and Wall Street bailout, so she couldn't have stayed on that alone. Then there is the fact she went with her racial dog whistles during the primary (hard working white people) and her portrayal of the black church as black liberation.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | November 25, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

unchurch- Appointing B Clinton would create a conflict of interest for the next administration. Having one spouse in the Legislative branch and the other in the Executive is definitely not in line with the whole idea of 'checks and balances' and 'separation of power.'

Posted by: marionPark | November 25, 2008 7:00 AM | Report abuse

angriestmostignoranthatingdog-

you just flap that mouth all the time with your hate on women. Get therapy.

Posted by: nycLeon | November 24, 2008 11:20 PM | Report abuse

C. Virginia Fields

Posted by: nycLeon | November 24, 2008 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Please put Gary Ackerman in the forefront of your mind(s).
He's the best choice.

Posted by: klowry57 | November 24, 2008 9:47 PM | Report abuse

.

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There are two things wrong, seriously wrong, with Obama today.


First, he urges action - OBAMA SHOULD BE THE ONE TAKING ACTION.


Second, his advisors are going to "monitor the situation" or "advise Obama on a daily basis"


The country needs Obama to be a great deal more PRO-ACTIVE - OBAMA NEEDS TO CALL BUSH, SIT DOWN WITH BUSH AND GET A JOINT ACTION PROGRAM TOGETHER RIGHT AWAY.


BI-PARTISAN ACTION RIGHT NOW IS WHAT IS CALLED FOR - THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT OBAMA CLAIMED HE WAS SO GOOD AT - OBAMA IS SITTING AROUND DOING VITUALLY NOTHING WHEN HE SHOULD BE DOING HIS POSTPARTISAN THING.

OH By the way, Obama did appoint a Social Secretary !!!!


not like anyone is uppity or anything like that............


The American people need bold leadership right now on the economy and what does the nation get?


A new social sectretary.

Congratulations America !!!!

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Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 24, 2008 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Gillibrand is sitting on a House seat the Democrats would probably lose without her, so I doubt she gets picked, whatever her qualifications.

Caroline Kennedy would be really cool, but she's clearly not interested in public life (understandable, really).

Posted by: SeanC1 | November 24, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Tom DiNapoli -- State Comptroller, former Committee Chairman in the NYS Assembly -- has the Long Island roots like Suozzi and has friends in all camps within his party -- the Republicans even like him.

Posted by: LoudounModerate | November 24, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Paterson should choose himself!

He's a good gov and would make a good Senator.
http://jumpinginpools.blogspot.com/2008/11/next-ny-senator-should-be.html

Posted by: MatthewAvitabile | November 24, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Think you have rated Suozzi and Hildebrand a bit too high, Chris. There is buzz about Hildebrand upstate, but I think she will be viewed as too inexperienced. Next time maybe. Very little buzz about Suozzi at all.
If we follow your reasoning, then Cuomo is the man. First, he is the only one with star-power. Second, he is the only one who could seriously challenge Patterson in 2010.
On a related topic,I think Guilliani's political career is over after his poor presidential campaign. As a New Yorker, my impression is that Patterson's job approval is above 50% after having taken office in difficult circumstances and then having had the state's revenues tank. Guilliani wouldn't beat him if the election were held today.

Posted by: wmw4 | November 24, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

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Chris


YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST.

TINA FEY HAS THIS ONE IN THE BAG.

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.

Posted by: 37thandOStreetRules | November 24, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Interesting line-up but Kirsten Gillibrand would be the best choice since she has the up-state demographic covered, is the right gender to replace HRC and has shown herself to be a competent legislator and political operative with an intellectual heft to grow into the job. I agree, she and Patterson would be an interesting, diverse ticket for 2010, she'll be an asset in upstate NY but won't hurt the ticket downstate.

Posted by: waltonsurg | November 24, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Why not Former Bronx BP Fernando Ferrer? Even though his three runs for mayor were less than stellar his performance as BP from 1987 to 2001 was quite impressive in terms of renewing the Bronx from the days of the "Bronx is Burning". Oh BTW he is Latino.

Posted by: MerrillFrank | November 24, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

"If Patterson appoints a Kennedy, what will they do in Massachusetts with the heredity Kennedy seat when Ted is gone?"

Give it to Chelsea?

Posted by: bsimon1 | November 24, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Yes, RookNYC is correct. The buzz on Nydia Velasquez is stronger here in NYC.

Posted by: dognabbit | November 24, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I don't think that Paterson, Cuomo, and Giuliani are legistlative types. They're more of the executive ilk.

Don't rule out Lowey as a gesture to all of her years of public service. A 2-year stint as U.S. Senator could be seen as a classy nod.

But I think you make great points, Chris, about Gillibrand. Paterson is clearly gearing up for a gubernatorial run (and, as a New Yorker, I've been happy with the way he's handling himself), so he can't ignore Gillibrand's fundraising, geography, and, frankly, gender.

Posted by: dognabbit | November 24, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Meant to say in previous: "A NY Politician ignores the Dominican and Boriquan vote AT THEIR OWN PERIL."

Protip: Boriquan=Puerto Rican

Posted by: RookNYC | November 24, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

The buzz here in the city about Nydia Velasquez is MUCH stronger than 25:1. Patterson's got a Latino insurrection in the state Senate to contain, and naming Velasquez would shore up that flank quite nicely. A NY politician ignores the Dominican and Boriquan vote: appointing a well-qualified Puerto Rican woman rep. like Velasquez to such a high profile seat would buy Patterson a ton of needed political capital ahead of 2010.

Posted by: RookNYC | November 24, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

If Patterson appoints a Kennedy, what will they do in Massachusetts with the heredity Kennedy seat when Ted is gone?

Posted by: caribis | November 24, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

the fact that there are NO black senator's as Obama resigned his... I would say Patterson might want to go with himself. Any nominees would be better than Rodham Clinton as she cares nothing about New York except that is where she made her money in hedge funds, which will be her downfall in this administration.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | November 24, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

"THIS ONE (but which one?) AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN." -- Chris Cillizza

Chris was talking about Caroline Kennedy as the next senator from New York.

But what's also "not gonna happen" is Barack Obama offering Hillary Clinton the SecState post.

Hillary's office already is leaking the name of HER deputy (Jim Steinberg) even before the President-elect makes her the firm offer.

If Obama goes through with this illogical extension of the "ream of rivals" concept, he will appear to be demonstrating that he can successfully pressured into his personnel decisions.

Given all the leaks, the message that would be sent 'round the world is that Obama can be rolled.

That's why he's NOT going to do it -- despite the efforts of Andrea Mitchell, Anne Kornblut, and yes, our own beloved C.C. to set Obama's cabinet table.

Here's more:

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/hillary-obama-drama-offer-hell-never-make-and-she-would-never-accept

OR http:members.nowpublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | November 24, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

So, if Hillary is to be Secretary of State, why has no one thought to suggest Bill as the appointed Senator from New York? It gives him a role. It keeps him, largely, out of international tangles. Indeed, it means he places his international agendas on hold. Last, it’s an appointment New York governor David Patterson can make while receiving high acclaim and little or no push back from political rivals.

Posted by: unchurch | November 24, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I also find it astounding that Chris is giving Kirsten Gillibrand 5-1 odds.

She's opposed to gun control (not very popular downstate, and she's supposed to work with Chuck Schumer, who got elected to the Senate based on his support of reasonable gun control measures?)

She also supports making the Bush tax cuts permanent and considers herself a "Blue Dog" Democrat.

Nope, there's no way Paterson will appoint her to the Senate.

Caroline Kennedy is the way to go.

Posted by: Bondosan | November 24, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

www.politicalgeekiness.com

Posted by: obamabackerlc | November 24, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

dribbl:
aren't you late for group?

Posted by: king_of_zouk | November 24, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

sorry i meant gillibrand not hildebrand, duh ...

Posted by: wickerparkbob | November 24, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

cuomo could decide to run for governor in a bruising primary with patterson, so sending him to the senate is in patterson's electoral interests. rfkjr is more like to be in the administration. lowey is too old and too well positioned in the house. suozzi has no star power and no substantial state-wide appeal. the four congressmen and women mentioned are tier-two candidates who would do little to serve patterson's interests. of those mentioned, that leaves hildebrand and caroline kennedy. the latter has a number of positives, but almost certainly doesn't want it. the former is a bit green but dynamic and she seems reasonably intelligent. patterson and she form an attractive state-wide ticket for democrats in 2010, unless she turns out to be ungrateful and supports cuomo in a primary fight. so for patterson then the two most strategic players, of those listed, are cuomo and hildebrand. of course, there could be other wild cards--not just the long shot reps, but also, say, bill clinton? i jest, but still, someone could come out of left field ...

Posted by: wickerparkbob | November 24, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Suozzi is, frankly, a jerk in a lot of ways, CC, and not really well liked by much of anyone.

And you really must be joking about Guiliani. He's more likely to get elected as governor of Montana than New York. His repugnant actions after 9/11, his disgusting treatment of firefighters and rescue workers, his rampant public sexual picadillos, all have left him wildly unpopular here -- suitable only as the butt of jokes by late night comedians.

Posted by: drindl | November 24, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I like Gillibrand, she seems impressive.

Posted by: sjxylib | November 24, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Chris, Caroline Kennedy would be the ideal choice.

She brings star power, is not controversial, would be able to win over upstate and downstate, and who would not love having JFK's daughter (his only surviving child) as a senator?

Furthermore, she would be able to be mentored in the Senate by her fading uncle and carry on the torch for him when he is gone.

Also, the reason why Cuomo is not being seriously considered is that nobody really likes him. He comes across as a bit of a thug.

Lastly, the only people who think Rudy Giuliani has a chance at statewide office in New York are people who don't actually live in New York. He's considered a joke here and he'll never be elected to anything in the state again.

Posted by: Bondosan | November 24, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

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