Friday, January 23, 2009

Gillibrand Tapped for Clinton US Senate Seat - NYT - Reuters

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New York Gov. David Paterson has picked Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the New York Times reported Friday, citing a person who had spoken to the governor.

Gillibrand, 42, is a second-term Democratic congresswoman from upstate New York. Fox News reported on Thursday night that Gillibrand would be selected, citing a Democratic official with knowledge of the governor's decision.

An aide to Gillibrand confirmed that she had accepted the appointment, the Times reported.

The governor will announce his selection at noon (1700 GMT) in Albany, the state capital. The Democrats currently hold a 57-41 majority in the U.S. Senate.

Gillibrand and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo were considered among the top candidates after Caroline Kennedy, who had been considered the front-runner, withdrew from consideration on Thursday.

Clinton, a former first lady, left the Senate to become the nation's top diplomat under President Barack Obama, putting the decision on filling the vacancy in the hands of Paterson.

Gillibrand was elected to Congress in 2006, defeating a four-term Republican incumbent. Endorsed by the National Rifle Association, Gillibrand is controversial among some of the party's more liberal leaders in New York, the Times said.

Paterson said he would reveal his choice on Friday, a day after Kennedy, 51, announced her decision to withdraw.

His office said Kennedy's decision to withdraw had been hers alone.

"The governor considers Caroline a friend and knows she will continue to serve New York well inside or outside of government," the statement said. "We wish her well in all her future endeavors."

Kennedy, who has long guarded her privacy, had a rocky political debut. She seemed uncomfortable talking to the media and was criticized for giving vague and inarticulate answers to interview questions.