By the time you read this, Governor David Paterson and a congressional delegation including Representatives Steve Israel and Anthony Weiner will have landed in Baghdad to meet with New York-based troops, senior Iraqi officials and American military personnel. (Information about the trip was embargoed until today for security reasons.)
The visit, part of a congressional delegation that also includes Republican Tom Cole of Oklahoma, marks Paterson's first visit to the region. It is also likely to bolster talk back in New York about Israel's prospects for replacing Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate, an appointment that Paterson has the power to make.
Supporters of Israel, who has actively pursued the appointment and has placed calls to Paterson and other New York officials to declare his interest in Clinton's seat, say that the trip demonstrates their candidate's ability to work closely with the governor on matters of national significance.
"I think the question is, politically, what does this do for Steve Israel," said one supporter of Israel's bid.
But sources familiar with the planning of the trip said that Paterson's involvement had been in the works as far back as September, meaning that his participation predates any discussion about filling the vacancy left by Clinton taking over at State.
The delegation departed on Friday evening, stopped over in Ireland and then landed in Kuwait on Saturday morning. They arrived in Baghdad on Sunday afternoon, and were scheduled to meet with representatives from the office of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.