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. JTR

    Actually, Bill Clinton would be the third former President, not the second, to return to Capitol Hill. Andrew Johnson was elected a Senator from Tennessee in 1875 after leaving the White House in 1869.

    December 1, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  2. Nick

    Bill de Blasio please.

    December 1, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  3. hairman

    Lets give New York to Canada!

    December 1, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |

    Caroline Kennedy!

    December 1, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  5. Pete

    Oh please send Bill Clinton Harry Reid's way, they are two peas in a pod.

    December 1, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  6. Ian from VA

    Check your facts...the first president to be impeached, Andrew Johnson, was the second former president to serve on the Hill.

    December 1, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  7. Pete

    As a junior senator, Bill would get one of those out-of-the-way senate offices, which would be helpful to keep his late night visitors when Hillary is out saving the world anonomous 🙂

    December 1, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  8. Soccer Nana

    This should be interesting.

    December 1, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  9. DrMan

    Isn't there some janitorial position Obama could offer Schumer? Then we could be rid of both of them.

    December 1, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |

    How about Chelsea Clinton

    December 1, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  11. Pete

    Becca, CNN didn't take journalism 101. That's why they ran a video today of an Indian boy who lost his entire family to the terrorists over the weekend. The story headline was something to the effect that he didn't even know he lost his family yet. But that didn't stop CNN from sensationalizing the story.

    Reporters don't have a written code of ethics that they follow, unlike almost all other professionals. That way, no one can hold them accountable. Just look at the differences between how they treated Obama and everyone else during the elections.

    December 1, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  12. Mac in Denver

    I think any Republican would make things interesting – – –

    December 1, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  13. Kathy in Florida

    Bill Clinton for Senator of New York

    December 1, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  14. John

    If Bill Clinton becomes a Senator, you can throw the "change" campaign slogan out the window as that is all it will amount to – a failed campign slogan to get votes. It's bad enough the Secretary of State spot has been handed out as a political "thank you" but do we need to keep scratching the Clinton's backs???

    December 1, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  15. knormb

    Stephon Marbury needs a new career.

    December 1, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  16. Otto

    I vote for her daughter Chelsea! Yeah...there you go!!!

    December 1, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  17. Sean

    How bout me!

    December 1, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  18. Tiff of lithia springs



    December 1, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. Eric P

    Run Interns, Run!!

    December 1, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  20. elsie

    Where did this stupid story come from Paul, the comment a blogger made over at Think Progress?

    December 1, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  21. Upstate Rob

    Kirsten Gillibrand. She might be just the choice Patterson is seeking.

    December 1, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  22. Georgia for Martin

    I hope it Caroline Kennedy or Bill Clinton
    but my first choice is Caroline Kennedy

    December 1, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  23. Peter

    If we have another Kennedy or Clinton near the White House I wont be too happy. The SoS Clinton idea bothers me....She didnt want to meet with Iran and Cuba, how is she supposed to oversee that stuff? I see a SoS Richardson at some point in late 2009 or early 2010

    December 1, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  24. elsie

    Billy, Peter King?? You must be kidding right? Isn't he the man who said in 2000 in Florida.... something like...It doesn't matter how many voted, only who counts the votes?

    December 1, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  25. James Newman

    Dear Mr. Steinhauser

    In your story you said that Bill Clinton would be the second president to serve in the Senate after leaving the White House, if the NY governor appoints him.

    Actually, he'd be the third president to do so. You mentioned John Q. Adams, but President Andrew Johnson also returned to the US Senate after leaving the White House.

    Jim Newman

    December 1, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
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