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January 27, 2009 - Ray Hall (Archive)
Governor David Paterson’s surprising choice of Kristen Gillibrand for Hillary Clinton’s US Senate seat over a list of more senior competitors suggests a return to power of “hard headed” Democratic pragmatists who once dominated candidate selection.   One term Congress woman Gillibrand, a Blue Dog Democrat and a member of the National Rifle Association got the nod over more powerful and probably more deserving Democratic contenders, and she is almost certainly facing a primary in two years.  However, the real winner in this political drama is New York’s Senior Senator Charles E. “Chuck” Schumer who has finally risen to a place of prominence in New York politics after serving in the shadows of Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Hillary Clinton.  
The New York Senator enhanced his national stature over the last two election cycles when he took the job, a job few even wanted, of searching for viable candidates for the US Senate.    His efforts paid off—Democrats are only one US Senator shy of 60—a controlling majority and people are eager to listen when Chuck Schumer speaks.   
Senator Schumer’s fingerprints are all over the appointment of Gillibrand. Despite challenging a member of the politically powerful and respected—even revered Kennedy Family and ignoring calls from Senate Leader Harry Reid, Schumer focused his attention on the political calendar.    Convinced that New York State will lose two Congressional Seats after the 2010 Census, Schumer appeared to be an early supporter of Gillibrand based on pragmatism and shifting demographics.  
Kristen Gillibrand was elected to Congress in 2007 representing New York’s 20th Congressional District that has 80,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats.   She narrowly won reelection last November in one of the most expensive Congressional campaigns that District has ever witnessed.   The 2010 Census gives the Democrats an opportunity, provided they keep a majority in the New York Senate, to redraw political boundaries by eliminating two Republican dominated Congressional Districts.
Persuaded by Schumer and other Democratic leaders, Governor Paterson passed over names like Kennedy and Cuomo and Nadler and Maloney and Lowey and Slaughter and Israel and Higgins for Gillibrand.   That decision might have put Governor Paterson on a collision course with Attorney General Cuomo in a primary battle for Governor and Kristen Gillibrand has already been threatened with a primary challenge, but from a party standpoint, the Gillibrand appointment makes sense. Even if Republicans regain the vacated House Seat in the 20th District, which    seems likely, the 20th Congressional District will be made but a memory by the 2012 reapportionment. 
There is a strong likelihood that Catherine Young’s 57th Senate District will be redrawn after the 2010 Census. Currently the 57th is made up of Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany and parts of Livingston and Wyoming Counties.  Chautauqua County is more likely to be aligned with Erie County.
There are no secrets between giants. Just last year Joseph Bruno was one of the most powerful men in New York politics, but last Friday Bruno was indicted on Federal fraud charges. Bruno’s troubles began in a bare knuckled brawl with former Governor Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer resigned as Governor, Bruno chose not to run for reelection and Republicans lost control of the State Senate for the first time in more than 40 years.  
Political soothsayer James Carville attributes this idea to Al Michaels who suggested that President Obama might want to keep Guantanamo open for Wall Street thieves. 
Rebuilding 5th and 6th Streets sounds good, but this time let us bury all existing above ground utility; electric, telephone and cable. Better yet, expand the project; bury utilities city wide and install fiber—broadband capability to every house. Do not worry about lighting up the fiber—with all that potential some company or another will make it work.


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