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Paterson Would ‘Relish’ a Senate Appointment

Lt. Gov. David Paterson (D) told a television interviewer on Sunday he would welcome an appointment to the Senate if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) is elected president in 2008 — but isn’t speculating about the possibility or campaigning for the job.

If Clinton becomes president, Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) would appoint someone to serve in the Senate for two years. The appointee would then be eligible to run in 2010 to serve the remaining two years of Clinton’s term and would be up for a full six-year term in 2012.

Many Empire State political insiders believe Paterson is the leading candidate for the appointment if Clinton moves on to the White House. Reps. Nita Lowey (D) and Gregory Meeks (D) and environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — whose father once held Clinton’s Senate seat — also are mentioned.

Paterson gave up his position as state Senate Minority Leader to become Spitzer’s running mate last year at a time when New York Democrats are close to taking back the Senate for the first time in more than 40 years. This fueled speculation that he was willing to trade the power of the leadership post for the added statewide visibility that being lieutenant governor would bring him.

Paterson’s chief political patrons are a quartet of veteran Harlem powerbrokers, including Rep. Charlie Rangel (D), former New York Mayor David Dinkins (D), broadcasting mogul Percy Sutton, and Paterson’s own father, Basil Paterson, who has held a variety of high-profile jobs, including vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Asked by veteran newsman Gabe Pressman on WNBC-TV’s “News Forum” show whether he’d “aspire” to have Spitzer appoint him to replace Clinton, Paterson replied, “Anyone that comes on this show, Gabe, in public service that tells you that they wouldn’t relish that opportunity is not telling the truth.”

But Paterson was quick to add that he isn’t thinking about a possible Senate vacancy.

“Rather than being speculative, I think the best thing that helps people move to a new goal is to work very hard on what they’re doing now and not worry about the future,” he said.
— Josh Kurtz

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