Representative Jerry Nadler didn't meet any of the political criteria Governor David Paterson sought in a senate appointment. He isn't a woman. He's not from upstate. And he's not exactly a fund-raising juggernaut.
Still, during the torturous weeks in which Paterson played his appointment parlor game, the very notion of Nadler serving with Chuck Schumer in the senate set the hearts of policy wonks aflutter. His supporters maintained a glimmer of hope for what they called "the substance candidate."
Nadler was one of the few candidates who walked away from the whole appointment debacle unscathed. His reputation as a substantive, if politically unacceptable choice, might even have been enhanced. But this morning, at a press conference at Grand Central Station where Nadler and Schumer stood together to talk about their combined efforts to get more stimulus money for mass transit, there was a glimpse of what could have been. Accents and city sensibility were on display. Percentages, historical facts about track miles between subway breakdowns, amendment details and formulas were cited with relish.
Even Schumer seemed to forget for a moment that they were not the state's junior and senior senators.
During his opening remarks, Schumer congratulated Nadler for "almost single-handedly" increasing the amount of funding for mass transit in the stimulus bill that passed "in the Senate."
"The House," Nadler corrected him.
"The House, he is not — I better stop right there," Schumer said, chuckling.
After talking up Nadler's amendment some more, Schumer yielded the podium to "Senator Nadler."
"Yikes," he said.
"Thank you Chuck," Mr. Nadler began.