Monday, November 24, 2008

The next Senator from New York...?

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Things we know: sometime after Thanksgiving, Senator Clinton will officially be named as the next Secretary of State.

Thing we don't know: who will be appointed to take her place in the US Senate and then stand for election in 2010.

The power to appoint Senator Clinton's replacement rests solely at the hands of New York Governor David Paterson. Paterson is in a unique position in that, because he slid into his job after Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned, he will be an incumbent campaigning for a job he's never formally been elected to. Thus he'll need to make a good Senate pick in order to consolidate his Democratic base as much as possible so as to fend off any credible Republican challenge in the fall.

In today's Washington Post blog "The Fix," Chris Cilliza writes that Rudy Giuliani may be looking at a run for Governor which further increases the need for Paterson to unify the Democratic Party. Cilliza also offers a list of potential successors to the Clinton seat.

Put bluntly: Paterson's main job now is to piss off the least amount of people possible. One could say that's any politician's job, but it's especially the case for this scenario.

So what kind of an appointee will Paterson want in the Senate? The person should meet four criteria:

  • Can raise money
  • Unify Democrats
  • Has high name recognition
  • Can hold on to the seat in the 2010 special election
A member of Congress is a natural choice, because these are people who have federal experience and one would think the ability to raise Washington money to hold on to the seat. Congresswoman Kristin Gillibrand comes from an upstate district, which would make her competitive in a statewide race. And while it would be good to replace Clinton with another woman in the Senate - Gillibrand has only been in Congress for a short time. Her ascent could upset others in the Party and either cause a tough primary in 2010, some backlash to Paterson - or both. Congressman Gregory Meeks has earned his stripes overtime, but it's not certain that he can win statewide.

Andrew Cuomo is also a safe choice, because he has family history in the state, Washington experience, and most of all has high name recognition - it might be hard to argue with such a Paterson selection if it seems to be such an obvious choice.

With all of these factors put into place, it would seem that Cuomo would be the best choice in terms of experience and politics. But what do you think? As always, please use the comments if your choice does not appear.