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N.Y. governor could choose big-name place holder for Senate seat

Some Democratic advisors say that someone like Bill Clinton or Mario Cuomo could serve temporarily in Hillary Clinton's place and level the playing field for 2010, taking a burden off Gov. Paterson.

January 01, 2009|Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. — Sen. Bill Clinton? Sen. Mario M. Cuomo? Don't rule it out.

The former president and the former New York governor are among several boldface names being touted as possible "caretakers" for New York's Senate seat -- people who would serve until the 2010 election but wouldn't be interested in running to keep the job. As the process of picking Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's replacement gets messier, the option may become increasingly attractive to Gov. David Paterson, who has sole authority to name a successor.

A spokesman for Bill Clinton said Wednesday that the former chief executive isn't interested in the job. Cuomo declined through a spokesman to discuss the seat.

A big name could have an immediate impact for New York in the Senate and let the large field of hopefuls duke it out in 2010, according to three Democratic Party advisors in New York and Washington who are close to the discussion with Paterson's inner circle.

Paterson has made it clear that he's getting annoyed by the jockeying by supporters of high-powered hopefuls including Caroline Kennedy and state Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo, son of the former governor.

Gerald Benjamin, a political scientist and dean at State University of New York at New Paltz, said that if Paterson appointed a caretaker, he could "say to Caroline Kennedy, 'You know, you'd make a good senator. Run for it.' And you can tell everyone else that it's a level playing field."

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