Monday, December 15, 2008

Musical Chairs

While much of the focus on open Senate seats is on Sen. Barack Obama's Illinois seat that Gov. Rod Blagojevich attempted to sell for personal profit and the criminal probe is sure to snare many a prominent Illinois Democrat, it's not the only one.

New York Governor David Paterson will have to consider a replacement for Sen. Hillary Clinton. Caroline Kennedy, who ran Obama's VP search committee, is throwing her name in the ring to get Paterson's attention.

Apparently, that might be all that is required to be Senator these days. Experience isn't exactly necessary, let alone required. Apparently, having the last name of Kennedy is sufficient.

Of course, all this will have to wait until Clinton actually vacates the seat. She wont step down until she's confirmed by her fellow Senators as the next Secretary of State.
Mrs. Clinton has said she will not vacate the seat until she is confirmed as secretary of state, which is expected to occur in January or February, and the governor has said he would wait until then to make the appointment. But he has also said he may make his selection known before then, to allow whoever is chosen to prepare for the new role.

Ms. Kennedy, 51, a resident of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, took an unusually public role in President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign, and the two became friends. Mr. Obama appointed Ms. Kennedy to the panel that vetted potential vice-presidential candidates for him.

But, before that, Ms. Kennedy had devoted much of her time to charitable works and institutions linked to her family, such as the Kennedy Library Foundation, where she is president.

Others likely to be considered are members of Congress, including Kirsten Gillibrand, a rising star in the Democratic party who represents an upstate district, Tom Suozzi, the former gubernatorial candidate and Nassau County chief executive, and the state attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo.
Notably absent from that short list is Nydia Velaquez. Cuomo has held major positions at the federal level, including as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The problem there is that he'd compete with Sen. Chuck Schumer for face time before media crews, and I don't know if Schumer would approve. Gillibrand might be a choice that Paterson favors because it would be someone who would have to owe Paterson down the road.

Meanwhile, across the river, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine is trying to figure out who would replace Lisa Jackson, who is being touted for the EPA position. Corzine is already playing musical chairs:
Jackson became Corzine's chief of staff Dec. 1, after serving as the state Department of Environmental Protection commissioner since 2006.

Taking over her Statehouse post as chief of staff will be Ed McBride, Corzine's chief counsel. McBride is "very bright" and has an exceptional work ethic, Corzine said.

"I trust him and look forward to working with him," the governor said. "I feel very strongly about his integrity and ability to get things done."

In the days since Jackson's nomination was disclosed, she has won praise for her pragmatic approach and work on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, among other efforts. But critics have called her unqualified, citing a recent report by EPA's inspector general saying New Jersey has moved too slowly in cleaning up several toxic waste sites.

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