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

Who will replace Hillary Clinton as New York senator?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" 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. Guillermo

    Kirsten Gillebrand D-NY 20th District

    December 1, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. John in VA

    While I am outside of New York, I keep hearing how Paterson wants to balance the city with upstate. That's why I am speculating it will be either Matt Driscoll or Byron Brown

    December 1, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  3. becca

    Why on earth would Bill Cinton want to be Senator......come on your stories are getting ridiculous and are just meant to get people to start complaining about the Clintons once again.

    It is obvious that CNN has an issue with the Clintons.....I wish you would get back to reporting and stop the witch hunt.

    President Clinton was an outstanding President and is now an outstanding World Leader. He is one of the few that has actually done something to help the poor and the outcast.

    SHAME ON YOU! for continuing to attack the Clintons. It's time to put your personal vendettas aside and focus on journalism 101.

    December 1, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  4. Valerie from Buffalo

    If David Patterson truly has the best interests of the "main street" taxpayers of New York State at heart, Bill Clinton would not even be on the "B" list, let alone the "A" list.

    December 1, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. Dave Diamond, Mont Vernon, NH

    Bill Clinton in the U.S. Senate? Oh please God, YES!!!

    December 1, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  6. Blue balloons

    It will be Caroline Kennedy. Place your bets now.

    December 1, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |


    December 1, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. Phil-Little Rock

    God no, NO MORE CLINTONS!!!

    December 1, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  9. Marc M

    Perhaps another person who hasn't ever lived there can show up and win?

    She had no clue about what NY needs and only ran there because she knew she could win.

    Politics for her isn't about the people or the country it's about her.

    December 1, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  10. JC

    Oh please, can you imagine the scandal that Bill Clinton would bring with him from NY to the already scandal-ridden history of Congress? I think he did enough damage in his day on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. If Paterson has any sense, he won't give Bill the chance.

    December 1, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  11. Alexander

    Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY-20) is both a woman and from upstate. She has been an outstanding Congresswoman and was just re-elected by an overwhelming majority. She would be an excellent replacement for Hillary.

    December 1, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  12. Stuart

    Hmmm... an appointee appointing an appointee. Why not democratize things and agree to appoint whoever the voters choose in a state-sponsored special election?

    December 1, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  13. Rich

    As a life long New Yorker, if I were Gov. Patterson I would take a page from the Obama book and choose Andrew Cuomo. Everyone here in the state KNOWS he wants to run for Governor when Patterson's term comes to an end. Eliminate one good candidate by appointing him Senator.

    December 1, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  14. Brian, New York

    Bill Clinton would get my vote.

    December 1, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  15. Robert

    Caroline Kennedy, a big name, a political outsider, a woman. It would make headlines.

    December 1, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  16. Billy

    Peter T. King NY -3

    December 1, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  17. Billy

    Peter King!

    December 1, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  18. Corey

    I like Mayor Brown in Buffalo but that's neither here nor there since it's going to be some time before Hillary Rodham Clinton gets confirmed by senate foreign relations committee and guessing she won't resign until after that.

    I don't like how much weight is being giving to identity politics though. You'll have a public servant who reflects all your values and concerns. Even if my twin, heck if I myself, were appointed, I still disagree with policy issues.

    December 1, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  19. C

    Bill Clinton would be an amazing senator.

    December 1, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  20. Georgia Gal

    I love Bill, but please for the love of pete, let's not put him in the U.S. Senate.

    Out of those mentioned I'd say either Andrew Cuomo or Caroline Kennedy.

    December 1, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  21. Ia Guy



    Well put!

    December 1, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  22. Eric

    Mayor Bloomberg. He gets some domestic/international experience before becoming President in 2016.

    December 1, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  23. Terry in Tulsa

    You are incorrect regarding former presidents going to Congress. Yes, John Quincy Adams served in the House of Representatives after his presidency, but President Andrew Johnson – the only other president impeached – was elected to the U.S. Senate from Tennessee by the Tennessee legislature in 1875.

    December 1, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  24. Miller

    I love CNN, but this is a bit presumptuous, isn't it? Who "mentioned" Bill Clinton as a possibly candidate? Does this "mention" mean that he's actually under consideration? Any number of political insiders could "mention" a number of candidates. Does this mean that any of them will actually be on the short list of those who have declared interest in the position?

    Besides, why would Bill want to be a Senator? Let's start there.

    December 1, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  25. Tyrone

    It will be Nita Lowey, Congresswoman NY 18th District. She appeared with Chuck Schumer when he spoke to MasterCard employees last week. She represents Westchester Country and was supposedly asked to step aside back when Hillary first ran, for party unitty sake. It will be her turn to step into the spotlight now with all the work she has done in her current role.

    December 1, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
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