The Race to Replace Hillary Clinton

With the renewed talk in a “dream ticket”, I thought it might be a good idea to look at who might be stepping into the Hill-ster's old Senate seat should she be movin' on up. (Ed. note–nearly all the news links on this are from the first time this speculation went around, last fall, when the Clinton campaign was on top. Forgive the Spitzer references.)

The rules of the game are slightly different than in Illinois in the case of Sen. Obama. The governor appoints someone to partially fulfill the term of the seat in question with no vote or vetting by the party. That person then holds the seat until 2010, when a special election would be held. Should the same person win, they then serve two more years until 2012–the original end of Sen. Clinton's current term. Therefore, whoever it is better be up for campaigning twice in four years–and winning.

The Magnificent Six:

1. NY Gov David Patterson

    Prior to his ascension to the Governor's office, Patterson was considered the odds on favorite to take the seat. He himself reportedly expressed interest in it on several occasions, both to the media and privately to then-Gov. Eliot “Number 9” Spitzer. If he's still interested in the job, he first must appoint a suitable Lt. Gov to take over his job before Jan. 2009, and then simply sign off on his own promotion. It remains to be seen however, if he can hold his current seat–let alone a Senate position.

2. Fmr. Pres. Bill Clinton

    Let's get this one out of the way early. There is talk that appointing Bill to the senate would solve “the Bill problem”. Some have said that Bill would likely chafe with boredom as the Second Gentleman, and appointment to the Senate would keep him engaged and in power–and he would, by all indications, be a great senator. And there is historical precedent. Both John Adams Quincy and Andrew Johnson both served in the Senate after their terms in office.

3. Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

    As one Kennedy star sets, could another be on the rise? Prominent environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has been quoted as saying “If Hillary left the Senate, I might run for that seat.” However, there is no coronation yet for this dynastic son. He's pro-life and strongly Catholic, which may turn off some voters, also he's inherited the Kennedy family skeleton closet. However, the compelling justice of Kennedy ascending to his slain father's Senate seat may be just what NY voters (and the nation at large) are looking for.

4.  Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14)

    As late as last year, all indications were that Maloney was bucking for the job–raising funds and working the state Democrat circuits. A home-grown Hillary Clinton, Maloney is tenacious and sometimes controversial, just like the former First Lady. The ace up her sleeve? She was a strong, early Clinton supporter and friend, and Clinton may use her influence to guide the selection of her successor. Also, Patterson might face a backlash of New Yorkers tired of the “celebrity senator”, looking for a dyed-in-the-wool, nitty-gritty New Yorker to fill the seat.

5. NY Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo

    Cuomo, son of fmr. NY Gov Mario Cuomo and RFK Jr.'s ex-brother in-law is another big name being floated for the job.  Cuomo, HUD secretary in the Clinton cabinet, is certainly qualified for the job. But does he have the “star power” to jockey for position with a former President and a Kennedy? Plus, Cuomo may wish to save his energy for a possible run at the Governorship–restoring the Cuomo name after the bizarre, scandal-ridden Spitzer/Patterson years. 

6. NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg

    His name's been floated for everything else, so why not? If Patterson could convince Bloomberg to be appointed as an Independent, it could be a possibility. Bloomberg is popular with both parties, and would cruise to victory over nearly any opponent from either party. Appointing him as an Independent might save him from running as a Republican in 2012, and capturing the seat outright for the GOP. 


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  • RFK Jr.

    We need more strong environmentalists in the Senate.

    But I don’t think Hillary will end up on the ticket, so in all likelihood he will have to wait until she retires to run for the Senate.