If Clinton Gets It, Who Will Spitzer Grab for Senate?

“The Puerto Rican community and the Latino community as a whole has been strong in state and local politics,” said State Senator José Serrano. “We have reached a point where we are definitely ready to step up to the next level. Onto that federal level, on the international scene. We need more Latinos in a position to affect national policy. I think the Latino community can step forward and be counted. From a political point of view, we have sort of been waiting in the wings.”

Hispanics who come up in conversations with Democratic congressional staffers and consultants are Mr. Serrano’s father, Representative José Serrano, and Representative Nydia Velázquez.

In addition to race, there’s also gender to consider.

“I for one would like to see him appoint a woman,” said Ms. Maloney, who says she is focusing on raising money for the Democratic Party and on her official business. She also said that she would prefer that Hillary’s replacement be opened to a statewide election, rather than the “criteria of what is in the governor’s head.”

Representative Nita Lowey, who stepped aside in 2000 to allow Mrs. Clinton to run for the seat vacated by the retirement of Daniel Moynihan, is considered another possibility.

But geographic (read: upstate-downstate) considerations could also affect the governor’s decision. And so could religious ones.

Notions of political balance might keep Mr. Spitzer from appointing a downstate Jew, for example, given that New York’s other seat is held by Chuck Schumer of Brooklyn. It also might be appealing to him, for the sake of appealing to a key swing-voting demographic in New York, to pick a Catholic.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is theoretically a possibility, then, although his rocky history with the equally ambitious Mr. Spitzer (and, most recently, his role in investigating what became the governor’s “Troopergate” crisis) make him an unlikely pick. Another possibility is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the environmentalist whose father held the seat. And yet another is Tom Suozzi, the Nassau County executive who lost a nasty gubernatorial contest with Mr. Spitzer last year but has since become one of his staunchest defenders.

All this rests on the assumption not only that Mrs. Clinton wins election to higher office, but that Mr. Spitzer will still be in a position next year to name her replacement.

“What if it’s not Eliot?” asked a staffer for one Democratic elected official. “The talk about this has gone from ‘What appointment would help him for his presidential aspirations’ to ‘Is it even going to be him who makes the decision?’”

And if it is?

“His is the least disciplined, most haphazard administration I can remember,” said one Democratic consultant. “There has been no method to the madness. Why would this be any different?”