Trying to figure out what New York Governor David Paterson is doing with Hillary Clinton’s vacated Senate seat really fascinates us. It’s like reading a great Agatha Christie novel, with plenty of red herrings, a memorable cast of characters, and motives and countermotives that are impossible to map out (well, only if you believe the media and get your news squarely from Politico.com). So, in terms of intrigue, we have to say, well played Paterson, well played. Ms. Christie would approve (though we bet she’d follow your clues and arrive at the same conclusion we have).
We still have no definite idea whether Paterson will appoint HRH Princess Caroline of Kennedy to the Senate, giving in to the Kennedy family’s royal demands in the face of all sense and reason in terms of what’s best for not only the people of New York, but the state’s Democratic party itself (and Paterson’s own election bid in 2010, which is of obvious self-interest to him). Kennedy is a bad choice for appointment if Paterson wants to keep his job; she should at the very least run for statewide office (or even a House seat) before demanding an express ride to Senator with no mundane public service stops along the way. Nothing she has done with her life, despite unparalleled privilege, warrants a Senate seat because, suddenly, you know, she wants one.
Now, in the above linked Politico.com article, Paterson makes unusual statements that are revealing clues in the best Christie tradition — yet again making it appear he’s leaning against Kennedy.
(1) He will name Clinton’s replacement “right after the Inauguration”, which could be late in the day Tuesday January 20th (which is right after the actual swearing in ceremony), or early Wednesday January 21st (the day after Inauguration Day itself). Either way, The Mystery of the Vacated Senate Seat is resolved, satisfactorily or not, by Wednesday.
(2) He hints he is still considering others besides New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and socialite Princess Caroline. Why keep hinting he is considering others if he intends to appoint Princess? That’s the biggest mysery to us. We don’t know what purpose that kind of hinting serves him if he’s already picked Princess…frankly, it makes Paterson seem rather stupid if he really picks Princess. So, he just strung people along and made the expected pick anyway, creating drama for nothing. Paterson doesn’t strike us as the type who needs to be an attention grabbing Drama Queen (and girl should would look heinous in drag).
(3) He made a really bizarre remark about the polls in New York for the Senate appointment. He said, “The polls go up and down. I think that’s more name recognition”. The reason that’s so odd is that no one has more name recognition than Princess Caroline. EVERYONE knows who she is, and who her parents were. Fewer people know who Andrew Cuomo are, both nationally and in New York state, and Cuomo is supported by 40% of voters, while Princess gets a measley 25% when asked whom New Yorkers want to take Clinton’s seat. Unless we miss Paterson’s drift, it seems to us that the person with the most name recognition would have the most support, and that should be Princess. So, taken in totality of everything else, it seems that Paterson is going to appoint someone other than Cuomo OR Kennedy…meaning someone who is scoring in the 6% or so range in those polls, like Kirsten Gillibrand or Carolyn Maloney, because those people are the ones who lack name recognition, and thus are not doing well in the polls (that go up and down) — and thus Paterson’s remark that he “think(s) that’s more name recognition” really only applies to people like Gillibrand or Maloney. That seems to indicate Paterson’s going to appoint a relative unknown without major name recognition.
(4) Paterson then makes the statement that, “There are some great candidates who have distinguished themselves but aren’t so well known”. Why say that if he intends to appoint Princess? If Princess had this in the bag, we’d just tell the press, “The announcement will be made after the Inauguration. Until then, let’s extend our thanks to Senator Clinton for 8 years of dedicated service, look forward to the start of a new administration, and after wishing Senator Clinton the best in her new endeavor, we will join together in supporting our new junior Senator from New York when I make the announcement after the Inauguration”. That is all he has to say, and can just keep repeating that ad nauseum. ALL politicians do this, and Paterson has done that in the past when he’s not particularly interested in giving more information than he has to. So, why keep mentioning other qualified candidates? To us, since he keeps on doing this, if he DOES pick Kennedy, he would have succeeded only in ticking off all those “other qualified candidates”, who weren’t even really considered in the end. That makes us think of prom, and Mr. Big Man on Campus tomcatting around the lunchroom, telling everyone he’s got many people in mind to grace his arm at the big dance, and the cheerleader, the honor student, the student council president, and the goth queen all think they’re in the running — and then Mr. BMoC ends up going to prom with the captain of the hockey team instead. All those hopes were raised for nothing, when he could have been noncommittal all the time, if he knew he wanted to go the hockey route all along.
(5) There’s one bit in that article that could be taken both ways and it’s: “My job is not to pick the person who is popular today,” he said. “It’s the person who is going to be popular in 2010, when they run for re-election”. We notice a couple things in that sentence. (a) It could mean Princess is the pick, because she is the one who is not popular today, but could be in 2 years when it’s re-election time. (b) That could mean Paterson’s talking about Gillibrand or Maloney again, since they’re only winning 6% in the popularity polls right now. (c) Paterson deliberately used the grammatically incorrect “they”, when the pronoun should be either she or he, since the pronoun is referring back to the noun “person” in that sentence. It seems like he chose “they” so he wouldn’t be boxed into a “she or he” choice that would tip his hand.
We know very little about Paterson and have never met him, but have good friends who fundraise for him in New York and will work on his gubernatorial bid. They told us last month Paterson was going to replace Clinton with a man, despite pressure to maintain the current number of women in the Senate (just as Governor Blagojevich was pressured to appoint another black to the Senate to replace Obama). Paterson, we were told, said he didn’t care about appointing a woman, but would appoint the person he thought could hold the seat in 2010 — knowing full well women will not organize any sort of action against Paterson two years from now for not appointing a woman. As much as we hate this reality, as long as women allow themselves to be divided in half along Roe v. Wade lines, women will never form an effective lobbying block for anything (and a woman will not be president, as much as we hate admitting that, and accepting that this kept Hillary Clinton out of the White House, while blacks organized as a racial bloc solidly behind Obama. Where was women’s solidarity? The same place it would be in a mobilizaton against Paterson for not filling Clinton’s vacancy with another woman: NONEXISTENT. We truly HATE that this is true, but it is: women don’t support other women en masse the way blacks do, and women won’t be outraged and become politically active and organized because Paterson appoints a man to the Senate. Sad, depressing, and terrible: but true).
For political junkies like us, this has been a curiouser and curiouser mystery — and we’ve got the same anxious feeling we always had reaching the last three or four chapters in one of Agatha Christie’s novels. We have absolutely no clue who the Senate appointment will be, but feel Princess Caroline is a royal red herring, and the pick’s going to be a white, male, Irish or Italian downstate moderate who will balance Paterson on the 2010 ticket he will share with not only the new appointment, but with Chuck Schumer as well.
THIS, which no one is talking about, is the REAL clue to solving the mystery.
People keep forgetting that Schumer will be on the ticket as well in 2010 — a bizarre scenario where New York’s governor and TWO Senate seats will be up for grabs all at the same time.
So, Paterson will already have Schumer’s voters turning out, and good little Democrats that they are, he knows he will get their votes. He’ll also get the black votes, because, as 2008 proved, black voters are the most openly racist voters in America, voting for black candidates over white candidates no matter what. There is no way Paterson loses the black vote, not when 95%+ of blacks voted for Obama in not only the general election, but the primaries as well. That will continue in 2010 for Paterson. In addition, Paterson will get the same urban liberals Obama won in 2008, who will support him and Schumer alike — as good little Democrats.
So, Paterson’s got the Democrat’s base sewn up solidly between himself and Schumer. All people who identify as Democrats, and always vote Democrats, can be guaranteed between them.
That leaves Independents and crossover Republicans to address on the ticket. It’s unlikely Schumer would draw many independents, as he’s a fairly partisan Democrat, and Paterson has nothing Independent about him.
We don’t see how Princess Caroline adds anything to the ticket that Schumer and Paterson don’t already bring.
So, who in New York has Independent and crossover appeal?
Kirsten Gillibrand…who is to the right of both Paterson and Schumer, is not widely known, and is a Hudson Valley Democrat in a Republican district who won her seat by reaching Independents and crossover Republicans.
She’s an upstate Democrat, while our gut tells us Paterson will want a downstate Democrat to balance things out geographically, but nobody’s perfect, right?
We’re positive Paterson has strategists and advisors doing what we just did above, and much more, by breaking down all of his options.
Just like in a good Agatha Christie mystery, there is one final clue that reveals the true motive in play and leads to the ultimate solution of the mystery: in our opinon, that final clue is the fact that Paterson’s Senate appointment will be based on the following equations and nothing else:
Paterson’s re-election = Paterson’s supporters + Schumer’s supporters + Hillary’s replacement’s supporters
Paterson’s supporters = blacks, urban liberals, lifelong partisan Democrats
Schumer’s supporters = blacks (overlap), urban liberals (overlap), lifelong partisan Democrats (overlap), ethnic/religious Dems (Catholics, Jews, Irish and Italian Dems)
Senate Appointment’s supporters = needs to deliver Independents and crossover Republicans for Paterson to remain Governor
Paterson has a lot of voter overlap with Schumer, and needs someone who can reach voters the two of them don’t bring in. Princess Caroline is Democratic royalty (an oxymoron if ever there was one), and has limited appeal with Independents, and zero appeal with Republicans.
So, if Paterson wants to stay Governor, she’s the worst choice in our book.
Gillibrand seems to be the best.
But since those Agatha Christie books always had a last-minute twist, Paterson could appoint himself to the seat and stump us all in the end.
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