The House Is Home For Nita Lowey : It's All Politics Rep. Nita Lowey (D) has taken her name out of consideration to be the next senator from New York once Hillary Clinton is confirmed as secretary of state. That leaves Gov. David Paterson with only about 3 million possible choices.
NPR logo The House Is Home For Nita Lowey

The House Is Home For Nita Lowey

Back in 1999, after Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York announced his retirement, the speculation about who would succeed him as the Democratic nominee was the talk of the town. Topping the list was the first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, even though she didn't live in New York. So what, argued her supporters, pointing to both Bobby Kennedy and Jim Buckley when they ran for and were elected to the Senate, in 1964 and 1970 respectively. They just simply moved to the Empire State before the deadline.

Yeah, yeah, wrote the guy who wrote the Political Junkie column that appeared on the Washington Post Web site at the time. You can talk about Hillary running all you want, but it's just a fantasy.

The Bobby analogy doesn't entirely fit the Hillary situation. Kennedy's parents had owned a home in the Empire State since the 1920s. And he attended New York schools for six years until his father became ambassador to Great Britain. Hillary Clinton has no such roots.

I'll be the first to admit that this is a fun story. But she's not going to run. Rep. Nita Lowey, who represents a district that covers parts of Westchester, the Bronx and Queens, will be the Democratic nominee.

Well, that clown was clearly wrong. But here it is, all these years later, and that Senate seat is about to open up once again, once Clinton is confirmed as secretary of state.

The first name I thought of as a potential successor: Nita Lowey. She's still in Congress, in fact now in the majority, still fighting for abortion rights and health care. I pegged her as a strong choice for Gov. David Paterson (D) to consider.

But it's not going to happen. In an interview with the Associated Press yesterday, Lowey said she is going to remain in the House, that Paterson should look elsewhere.

Oh well. But not to worry. Even with Lowey taking herself out of the mix, Paterson has an easy choice to make. As Clyde Haberman wrote in The New York Times a week ago, "It should be a breeze."

Surely, in a pool that vast, Mr. Paterson will be able to find a gay, black, Roman Catholic woman with a Latino surname, thanks to her father, and a mother who was born in China to Christian missionary parents but who converted to Judaism. Oh, and this gay, black, Roman Catholic woman with a Latino father, etc., should live outside Rochester or maybe Syracuse. ... Thus will the governor be able to satisfy just about every constituency clamoring for the Clinton Senate seat.

A bit tongue-in-cheek, of course. But the list of possibles, and not-so-possibles, is huge. Alphabetically, it includes Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr., former President Bill Clinton, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand from upstate, Rep. Brian Higgins of Buffalo, Rep. Steve Israel of Long Island, Caroline Kennedy and her cousin Robert Kennedy Jr., Rep. Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan, Rep. Gregory Meeks of Queens, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of Manhattan, ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer (I swear I saw him mentioned), Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, and Rep. Nydia Velazquez of Brooklyn.

The good news is that Clinton has said she is not going to resign until the new Senate confirms her, which is at least a month away. That gives Paterson, and us, more time to consider the 3 million people who are potential successors.