She'd have to give up her House seat to do so. (Which is actually quite a good reason to believe that, at the end of the day, she won't run for Senate, and that this will all have been more about David Paterson's decision to pass her over for a junior colleague than anything else. But for the sake of this exercise, let's assume she does it.)
Who would replace her?
In Maloney's Congressional district, according to the State Board of Elections, there are 264,561 registered Democrats, 72,088 registered Republicans, and 93,304 voters not registered in any party. In the 2005 Council races in the heart of the district, the Democratic candidates (Dan Gardonick and Jessica Lappin) crushed their moderate Republican challengers (Patrick Murphy and Joel Zinberg, respectively).
So the next representative from her East Side-plus-a-bit-of-Queens district will almost certainly be a Democrat.
With that in mind, here are some possible replacements for Maloney if she doesn't run for reelection in 2010. They are presented in no particular order.
As always, if I'm leaving anyone out, let me know.
He’s a hardworking city councilman, a lawyer who grew up in in Peter Cooper Village, the densely populated part of the district that is driven almost exclusively by one issue: affordable housing. Gardonick's Council district includes a chunk of this area, mirroring, somewhat, the Congressional district, and giving him an edge over other electeds who are mostly known in the midtown part of the district.
She represents the district right next door to Garodnick's, and worked as the chief of staff to the previous incumbent, the former council speaker, Gifford Miller.
She generally avoids headline-grabbing gestures and confrontation, building a profile instead through diligent constituent service. When she considered a run for public advocate earlier this year, her good working relationship with Michael Bloomberg was thought to be an asset, especially among voters in her district.
A source close to Lappin said she could consider a run if the Maloney seat were vacant.
He was elected to the Assembly in 2002, just a few years before Garodnick and Lappin got into office in 2005. His district doesn’t go as far south, or east, as the Congressional district, but it does include a chunk of it in midtown.
He has a close working relationship with Maloney, and the two share a political club, the Lexington Democratic Club, which is a focal point of establishment power in that part of Manhattan. He's been in Albany long enough to have a legislative record to run on, but not long enough, arguably, to be considered part of what makes Albany dysfunctional.
The former city councilwoman who now lives and runs a charter school in Harlem seems to miss politics pretty intensely.
Coming into the race off the bench could enable her to argue that her more recent experience gives her an advantage over other candidates. She lost a race for Manhattan borough president in 2005, but has residual name recognition and working-mom biographical credibility in the district. (Images of her pushing her stroller through the district are hard to erase from my memory, at least).
The teachers union will not be helpful to her candidacy.
She came into the State Senate as a liberal champion, having nearly ousted longtime Republican incumbent Roy Goodman in 2001, then, after he retired, vanquishing Goodman's protégé John Ravitz.
After that victory, she fended off an expensive challenge from Andrew Eristoff, a self-funded candidate who was, I believe, the last serious challenger she had.
She isn’t considered as close to the Maloney political operation on the East Side as some of the other potential candidates, which, in a primary in this district, doesn't help.
He’s an exceptionally energetic councilman from the Queens side of the district who will have just gone through a citywide campaign for public advocate by the time this seat opens up next year. Even if he loses—and right now he's polling last—the money and effort spent in that race could greatly help his name identification.
He’s good at raising money in small, publicly matchable increments, and he's exceptionally good at getting media attention.
While only a small part of the district is in Queens—his personal narrative of growing up the son of a florist may not help so much on the Upper East Side—a divided field of Manhattan candidates, plus a near-perfect campaign, could get him there.
He’s an assemblyman, also from the Queens side of the district. He’s a Harvard graduate and former counsel to Sheldon Silver who did an amazing job of early fund-raising for an attorney general race back in 2006.
He skipped the race then, but made valuable contacts. He's smart and has the everyman thing.
Again, the combination of a crowded Manhattan field and a near-perfect campaign—especially if Gioia isn't around—makes his candidacy a totally credible idea.
He's the founder and president of The Doe Fund. Spokesman Ken Frydman, who once worked for Rudy Giuliani, sent a statement to reporters saying McDonald "will form an exploratory committee to run in the Democratic primary for Carolyn Maloney's Congressional seat should she chose to run for the senate." He ran for the seat in 1988, when it was held by Republican Bill Green. Four years later, Green was defeated by Maloney.