NEW YORK — If Sen. Hillary Clinton decides to bolt from the U.S. Senate for the State Department, what happens to her Senate seat?
That has become the latest talk of the towns, in the Big Apple and in Albany.
Gov. David Patterson, who would appoint Clinton's replacement, insists he has not even begun forming a list of candidates.
What Patterson, who once considered running for the Senate if Clinton had been elected president, has said is that he intends to remain in Albany and run for a second term as governor.
Under state law, Clinton's replacement would serve only until the next general election in 2010. The sitting senator then would have to run to fill out the remaining two years on her term.
So, any Clinton successor would need to run twice between 2010 and 2012.
Republicans, sensing a void they might capitalize on, are leaning toward former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to contend for the seat.
A Senate seat could give Giuliani a platform to make a second run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.
On the Democratic side, several names are already being floated.
Among the serious possibilities are:New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo. Word is that Cuomo, who has been in his current office less than two years, is reluctant to make a move to Washington at this time. Insiders believe that he has his eye more on the Governor's Mansion than the Senate floor.Former state Public Advocate Mark Green, the president of liberal talk radio network Air America and a veteran of tough New York City politics. Under Mayor David Dinkins, he was consumer affairs commissioner. In 1993, Green was elected the first public advocate. He served in that post until 2001. That year he was the Democratic nominee for mayor, narrowly losing to Republican Michael Bloomberg. Green also has close ties with Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is expected to play a major role in Patterson's decision.
Other possibilities, but considered long shots, include:Two current congresswomen, Nita Lowey and Nydia Velazquez.JFK daughter Caroline Kennedy, who also is rumored to be in the running for U.N. ambassador.And, former US/UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke.
Should Clinton become the next secretary of state, Patterson is expected to name her replacement within a week or two so her successor can be sworn in when the next Congress convenes the first week of January.
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