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. HOPE

    RFK!!!

    December 1, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  2. charles

    How about Monica Lewinsky?

    December 1, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  3. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    I HOPE PATERSON WILL PICK BILL CLINTON OR ONE OF THE KENNEDYS'.

    December 1, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  4. Harry

    This story is factually incorrect. The only other impeached president, Andrew Johnson, served as senator after being President. However, it was only for several months because he died in July of the same year. He is currently the only former president to serve in the United States Senate.

    December 1, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  5. silver bells

    not bill, please.

    December 1, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  6. Tim

    Actually, another president went from "the White House to Capitol Hill"' and, how ironic, it was Andrew Johnson, the only other president to be impeached. He served as Senator from Tennessee from 1974 to his death in 1875.

    December 1, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  7. Peter (CA)

    Don't know much about the congressmen on the list but Cuomo would be a good pick. He has served well in several posts.
    I would like to see RFK, Jr. be placed in charge of the EPA. God knows, we need someone who cares about the environment in that post.

    December 1, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  8. jon

    i cant believe i have to see this womans face for four years now

    December 1, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  9. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    Malia Obama! Just kidding.
    She'd probably get peanut butter over all the appropriations bills.

    December 1, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. R

    Psst! It's Robert Kennedy Jr.

    December 1, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  11. Jaye

    Long as she's replaced with a democrat, and Rudy Guiliani isn't mentioned.

    December 1, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  12. Simmy

    I am confident that her replacement will be as experienced as she. Please stop trippin' over trivia; like FP Clinton not being at the meeting with Hillary! So what? You people should really get a life! You're miserable! Stop trying to bring others down with you!

    December 1, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  13. 3strikes

    i not an nobama supporter but i think it should be one of the kennedy's to replace her, like the kennedy's.

    December 1, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  14. Maggie in NYS

    Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand!

    December 1, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  15. PJP

    You know, I really don't think it is fair that Hillary Clinton gets a another important job. She has already ran the county for 8 years while her husband was president and though most of you won't agree, that is the only reason we have been in such a mess for the last 16 years. Well, I can't give them all the credit, for the last 100 years our government has been going down hill little by little. This won't be any better.

    December 1, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  16. Roger from CA

    Ye-ah.... Bill Clinton as senator?.... Not gonna happen.

    December 1, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  17. Virginia

    Wow, the possibility of Bill as her replacement is even scarier than having her as Secretary of State, and both are mindboggling and scary!!! Let's hope that the Governor of NY will not be that stupid.....

    December 1, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  18. chuck

    I like the sound of a Kennedy taking office.

    December 1, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  19. Ken Chu

    Actually, Bill Clinton would be the 3rd ex-President to serve in the Congress. John Quincy Adams returned to the House, as you mentioned, and Andrew Johnson served briefly in the Senate.

    December 1, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  20. Il_voter

    Get Chelsea in the senate seat. She is showing political maturity. Get new young ideas to Senate floor.

    December 1, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  21. DOCS 3

    NO CUMMOS OR CLINTONS WOULD BE NICE. SINCE WE ARE NOT FROM NEW YORK BETTER LET THIS ONE ALONE. WE JUST LEAVE IT WITH WORDS OF THINKING OUT LOUD. -"YOUNG AND FOR THE PEOPLE".

    SOO!!!!!!!

    December 1, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  22. jeff

    Difficult for her. Right. She's now fourth in line!!!

    December 1, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  23. lots of candidates

    How about Al Sharpton? He'd shake things up....or perhaps George Steinbrenner- he's someone we could all hate.

    December 1, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  24. Ian Ossakow

    Mr. Steinhauser is incorrect when he states, "Clinton would become only the second former president to go from the White House to Capitol Hill." If Former President Clinton were to be selected to fill his wife's seat, he wouldn't even be the first former president to serve in the U.S. Senate. Former President Andrew Johnson served again for a few months in the Senate in 1875. What's even more interesting, is that were Governor Paterson to choose Bill Clinton, the only two presidents impeached in our country's history would both have subsequently served in the body that tried and acquited them.

    December 1, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. Spencer/NY to VA

    How about Jay-Z. He already is the King of NY.

    December 1, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
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