Friday, November 28, 2008

Musical Senate Seats? by Matt Hampton - Queens Chronicle

Read original...

With President-elect Barack Obama seemingly putting together a Lincoln-esque “team of rivals” in his cabinet, one New York name that has unsurprisingly popped up is Sen. Hillary Clinton, who is reportedly being vetted by a team of attorneys to be the next secretary of state.

If she is tapped for the position and accepts, it will leave a gaping hole in New York’s Senate delegation that Gov. David Paterson will be forced to fill in short order.

Several candidates have been discussed, including current Brooklyn/Queens Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez and New York’s sitting Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

One interesting consideration should also be given to the current make-up of the United States Senate. With the resignation of Obama last weekend, the nation’s highest governing body is currently absent any African-American representation.

Paterson, New York’s first African-American governor, has certainly never been motivated by race in his previous appointments, but the opportunity to essentially legislate diversity at such a crucial period in American history is undoubtedly tempting.

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks and New York City Comptroller William Thompson Jr., are both viable replacements for Clinton, and well known members of the African-American community. Both have years of big-time experience and proven track records in office.

Selecting Meeks would be an easy transition, as the congressman’s 10 years of Washington experience would allow a relatively seamless switch.

When asked about the possibility, Meeks’ office referred to a recent appearance Meeks made on MSNBC’s Hardball, where Meeks told host Chris Matthews that “my main focus is serving the constituents of the Sixth Congressional District, but if I am asked I will answer the call.”

For Thompson, an appointment to the Senate would mean he gets to avoid what has become a very crowded mayoral field, and a battle against a tough incumbent.

It’s unlikely that Paterson would select a current state senator for the position, considering the delicate balancing act that’s currently taking place with the Democrats’ newly christened majority, though Malcolm Smith’s name has also been mentioned.