Friday, January 23, 2009

An audacious and wise Blue Dog pick

NY Govenor Paterson shows his independence. And he knows how to count votes upstate.
ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. David Paterson has picked Democratic U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to fill New York’s vacant U.S. Senate seat, an aide to the governor said early today, a day after Caroline Kennedy abruptly withdrew from consideration.

Gillibrand, a second-term lawmaker from upstate New York, will be named to fill the seat vacated when Hillary Rodham Clinton resigned to become secretary of state in the Obama administration, the aide said, speaking on condition of anonymity because an announcement hadn’t been made. Paterson was expected to announce his pick at noon on Friday.

Gillibrand’s office didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

She was considered one of the top contenders in Paterson’s selection process, along with Kennedy and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Paterson’s appointment lasts until 2010, when a special election will be held to fill the final two years of Clinton’s term.

Kennedy, the daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, called the governor around midday Wednesday and told him she was having second thoughts about the job, according to a person close to Paterson, who said she later decided to remain in contention, only to announce her withdrawal early Thursday in an e-mail.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, who wasn’t among the 10 to 20 people Paterson said applied for the Senate appointment, immediately criticized the expected pick. McCarthy, whose husband was killed by a gunman on the Long Island Railroad, said Gillibrand’s support of more conservative issues such as gun ownership rights was out of step with most New York Democrats.

"I just think it’s a very, very poor choice," McCarthy told News12 TV on Long Island on Friday. "It sends out a very very bad message. I can see the NRA sending out their campaign literature saying, ’Hey raise money, we have to get an NRA member into the Senate from New York.’"

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