After speaking in praise of retiring Chief Judge Judith Kaye at an event on West 44th Street last night, I asked Paterson if the news out of Illinois is affecting his decision-making process about Hillary Clinton’s vacant senate seat.
He said it made him “more resolved” to find someone based on “merit” and to pick someone who can win in 2010.
“I’m not going to comment on anything that happened in any other state, but what I would say is that just hearing the news makes me more resolved to the fact that this has to be a merit process,” he said. “The only thing I should be thinking about is the merits of the candidates. And the only thing the candidates should be thinking about is demonstrating that in lieu of an election that they would serve the state the best. Interestingly enough I was reading that there have been, there have been, I think in the last century, over 80 times when governors have had to appoint senators. And since 1960, there have been 48. Of the 48, 10 have just decided to serve out the term and not run for election. Of the 38 that ran for election, only 18 won. So, less than half actually won. So, as I think about that, because of the precious nature of seniority in Washington, I’m hoping that a candidate that I select would win in 2010. Because what’s very key in the U.S. Senate, and what the U.S. senators that I’ve spoken to have apprised me, is that seniority is very important.”