December 1st, 2008
01:05 PM ET
5 years ago

Who will replace Hillary Clinton as New York senator?

 Clinton's looming exit to be Obama's secretary of state means a scramble for her old job.
Clinton's looming exit to be Obama's secretary of state means a scramble for her old job.

(CNN) – The scramble to replace Hillary Clinton on Capitol Hill was well underway by the time President-elect Obama officially nominated her Monday morning. Among those mentioned to to take her seat as New York's junior senator: her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Sen. Clinton said at the Monday event announcing her nomination that she wanted to "thank my fellow New Yorkers who have, for eight years, given me the joy of a job I love with the opportunity to work on issues I care deeply, in a state that I cherish."

She added that "leaving the Senate is very difficult for me."

The task of choosing a successor to Clinton will be just as tough.

That job falls to David Paterson, New York's Democratic governor. Whomever he picks would serve for two years, before a special election would be held in November 2010 to decide who fills out the last two years of Clinton's term.

Paterson — who has already taken himself out of the running - has a strong bench to choose from.

There are a number of possible contenders, including at least eight members of New York's delegation in the House of Representatives, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, Caroline Kennedy, and her cousin, Robert Kennedy Junior.

"This is not an election. This is not a campaign. It's a constituency of one: David Paterson. It's all about what the governor wants to do," says non partisan political analyst Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of The Rothenberg Political Report. "Paterson has said he would prefer someone from upstate New York, or a woman or an Hispanic candidate."

As for some of the more unconventional picks, Rothenberg says that Paterson could “try to make a splash with a big name like Robert Kennedy Jr." or a "quirky interesting pick" like Caroline Kennedy, who's not a politician.

But some are suggesting that the former President replace his wife.

In an op-ed last week in the Washington Post, journalist and author Karl Meyer and his wife urged Governor Patterson to "send Bill Clinton to the Senate."

If that happened, Clinton would become only the second man to be elected president, then serve on Capitol Hill. President John Quincy Adams lost his re-election bid in 1828. Two years later, he returned to Washington after winning election as a congressman from his home state of Massachusetts, and served in the House of Representatives until his death in 1848.

President Andrew Johnson, who served out the remainder of President Abraham Lincoln's term, also served briefly in the Senate in 1875 - just seven years after Congress voted to impeach him.

Bill Clinton would bring gravitas to the job - and he definitely knows his way around Washington - but some Democratic strategists who used to work for the former president think it’s unlikely he’d want to go from dealing with weighty world issues as the former leader of the free world to worrying over dairy prices and transportation appropriations as the junior senator from his adopted home state.

Clinton’s office told CNN the former president is deferring all questions on his wife’s Senate replacement to Paterson. The New York governor said Monday that he is holding discussions on the question, but that he expects to reveal his pick when Hillary Clinton resigns, and the vacancy officially occurs.


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • New York
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Lawrence Hershon

    who do you think it will be?

    December 1, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  2. Gaylon Barrow

    Gulliana. Who else!!!

    December 1, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  3. TX_C

    Send Caroline Kennedy to the US Senate. NO to Bill Clinton. He has been a president for two-terms - move over and give others an opportunity to succeed. WE NEED SOME CHANGE IN WASHINGTON!

    December 1, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  4. Barbara in NC

    Ask WOLF BLITZER – He is always trying to forecast the news instead of reporting it.

    December 1, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  5. Ia Guy

    Bill Clinton as a senator? You are kidding me? He was the president for God's sake. Why on Earth would he accept a low profile position compared to where he's been?

    December 1, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  6. We Got Your Back Mr. President

    Michele Obama can move into a townhouse in Manhattan and run for Senator .... why not ... stranger things have happened.

    December 1, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  7. Bill Clinton

    I have a suggestion...

    December 1, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. Stacy from Loudoun County VA

    Let me guess, is everyone talking about the former Arkansas Governor turned President now New York Resident now perhaps soon to be Senator Bill Clinton? Can we get Roger Clinton?

    December 1, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  9. Brian

    Bill would make an EXCELLENT senator.

    December 1, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  10. Rob in NYC

    I didn’t vote for President Bush in either of his election bids nor did I support the Iraq War but I am amazed at the venom of the comments posted here. I remember the “support the war” hysteria in this country and I suspect that many of these characters kicking the President to the curb today wanted to have a beer with the “guy’s guy” in 2000 and swept away in the hysteria of 2003 but feel somehow they will be exonerated by this kind of behavior...

    December 1, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  11. Eileen Bruni

    NO, DON'T PUT BILL CLINTON IN HIS WIFE'S NY SENATE SEAT!!!!!
    Too much of the Clinton's already, and I was a big fan of his once.

    December 1, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  12. OMG

    cant believe this,
    why in teh world bring back old baggages..................

    pathetic..
    that is all i have to say,
    this is not CHANGE< this is same old same,

    i want my money back.................

    December 1, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  13. jp

    I think it has to be someone from upstate. Upstaters will not stand for a continued drought of upstate representation. If Gov. Paterson picks a downstater, it will be an obvious snub when the Gov and both US Senators are up for re-election in 2010 and all the candidates are from downstate. The last governor form upstate was Gov. Cleveland who left office in 1922. The last US Senator from upstate left office in 1971. Incidentally, the last US Senator from upstate was also appointed by the Governor.

    December 1, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  14. redneck

    Who really cares !

    December 1, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  15. Texas Teacher

    I can't see Bill wanting the post myself. :)

    hmmmmm... interesting.... my vote goes to Caroline Kennedy, for what it is worth! I have a good feeling about her.... if not her... why not consider Maria Shriver.... oh, I forgot.... she's in California.... *LOL*

    December 1, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  16. Janice Illinois

    Way to go GIRL, Finally !!! Now show them naysayers what your made of and I still want to say that any woman who will not vote for another , stands in the way of her daughters and grand daughters. In the race between Obama and Hillary there was very little difference between their policies and women did not stick together as we should have, it's a shame to me when we and women before us worked so very hard for our right to vote and to gain respect that we deserve in the world. When you want something done and done right and done now , my theory ask a WOMAN.

    December 1, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  17. Doug R.

    How about Bill??

    December 1, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  18. Jackie in Dallas

    It isn't that unusual for a spouse to be selected to finish a term, although, admittedly, it usually is a wife selected to finish out a term of a deceased husband. I do find this disturbing, however. I think another member of the Democratic party of New York would be a better choice... Bill will have his hands full, as it is.

    December 1, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  19. Michael Tropp

    I think Bill would make a great senator; who knows more about domestic and international issues than him? But he won't take it and it won't be offered. This isn't the 1800's where you could transition from the White House to the Congress. The power of the presidency has increased so substantially since then that I can't see any president "downgrading" to the House or Senate.

    December 1, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  20. Sarge in Florida

    CAROLINE KENNEDY yes she would be the right choice just because is has no baggage to bring along with her..She may not be a politician but I have strong thoughts about her working for the PEOPLE of New York..And her Uncle may not last too long and should could carry on his legacy....I now live in Florida and hope she gets the job....GO CAROLINE!!!!!!!!!!

    December 1, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  21. Janey

    Bill's Back! Please make it Bill–we need some excitement.

    December 1, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  22. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    I hear Rudy Giuliani has registered as a Democrat and is offering his "services" to the state.

    "I'm a glory hound, you know!!!" – Giuliani

    December 1, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  23. Sheldon Greenspon

    I believe there is an error in the article about Governor Patterson replacing Hilary Clinton in the Senate with possibly her husband. I believe Andrew Johnson returned to the Senate from the state of Tennessee after being President. Wouldn't this be ironic if Bill Clinton did take his wife's place in the Senate? The only two presidents to serve in the Senate after being President were both impeached.

    December 1, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  24. Shucks

    Bill Clinton would have the republicans jumping off of bridges. It would be delightful.

    December 1, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  25. Dave in NYC

    Leaving the senate is "difficult?" Somehow that doesn't ring true from the person who just got defeated trying to leave the Senate for a better job!

    December 1, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
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