Gov. Paterson, defying the liberal wing of his Democratic Party, has chosen little-known, NRA-backed, upstate Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as New York's junior senator, it was learned last night.There are more Democrats in New York than Republicans, and not all Democrats in the state are as liberal as the downstate contingent who are already represented by the likes of Charles Schumer. Gillibrand was actually supported by Schumer in this move precisely because of the need to increase the voice of upstate Democrats. This is a sign that Paterson is attempting to provide a greater voice to upstate New Yorkers. Like him or hate him, Schumer is a very savvy politician who has steered the Democrats to a comfortable advantage in the Senate.
The surprising - and, for many Democrats shocking - decision to pick the conservative Gillibrand, 42, from Hudson in Columbia County, was disclosed by the governor in calls to party officials and some members of the state's congressional delegation, many of whom said they were unhappy with the selection, sources said.
However, that isn't sitting well with some of the leading contenders for the position, including Carolyn Maloney, who is a staunch gun control advocate. Expect top Democrats to come out and challenge Gov. Paterson when he comes up for reelection, as well as Gillibrand when her term is up in 2010.