Paterson to Hold Off on Naming Clinton's Heir

Sen. Hillary Clinton tapped as President-elect Barack Obama as his nominee for secretary of state

Gov. David Paterson will have more than a month to choose a successor to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, after her office said Monday she will not resign her Senate seat until she is confirmed as secretary of state.

One prominent potential replacement, Nita Lowey, told The Associated Press Monday she's not interested in the job.

The jockeying to replace Clinton in the Senate began well before President-elect Barack Obama's official announcement; the governor's decision not to make a decision on a successor until January likely means a frenetic holiday season for New York politicians.

Clinton "intends to remain in office through confirmation," her spokesman Philippe Reines said. Paterson issued a statement saying he will not announce his choice until the seat is actually empty.

"In order to appoint the best possible candidate to replace Senator Clinton, I am consulting with a wide variety of individuals from all across New York State. I expect to announce Senator Clinton's replacement when the position becomes officially vacant," Paterson said.

Clinton's decision to hold onto the seat through confirmation echoes one made by then-Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas, when he was tapped to be President Clinton's treasury secretary in 1993.

Paterson doesn't lose much by waiting, except possibly some peace and quiet over the holidays.

An early resignation and appointment doesn't affect the U.S. Senate's all-important seniority rankings when it comes to committee assignments. Senate Democratic Secretary Lula Davis said that even if a replacement was picked and sworn in next week, that person would be considered no more senior than any of the newly-elected senators coming to Congress in January. An early selection would, however, have given the replacement seniority in picking office space.

With Paterson giving no hints, there are plenty of people considered in the running to follow Clinton in the seat formerly held by Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Robert F. Kennedy.

Lowey, who already has a powerful post in the House Appropriations Committee, said she isn't interested in giving up that hard-earned seniority -- one which happens to give her a great deal of say over the budget of the State Department which Clinton may soon lead.

"Even though it's a great honor to be considered, for me, it makes more sense and I can accomplish more for my district, the state, and the country, if I stay in the House of Representatives," Lowey said in a phone interview with The AP.

That still leaves a long list of candidates, including New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, former Nassau County executive Tom Suozzi, and Buffalo mayor Byron Brown.

There are also several members of Congress in the mix. From upstate, Reps. Kirsten Gillibrand and Brian Higgins are frequently mentioned.

Around New York City, Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, and Nydia Velazquez are often mentioned, in addition to Steve Israel from nearby Long Island.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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