The Case for Danny O’Donnell, As He Made It

ALBANY—Danny O’Donnell’s last successful job interview was in 1987, to work for the Legal Aid Society as a public defender in Brooklyn. It was very different than his meeting with David Paterson yesterday, where O’Donnell spent 40 minutes making his case to become a U.S. senator–abd the first openly gay member of that body.

“This was much more conversational. He’s not a mystery to me and I’m not a mystery to him,” said O’Donnell of Paterson, who he worked with when Paterson was a state senator and their districts partially overlapped.

O’Donnell said he got a call from Paterson’s staff on Christmas Eve – “extraordinarily flattering, and I did not expect it” – and in the interim days “mostly I got nervous. That’s all I really did. I didn’t read any background materials, I didn’t look up David’s bio, I didn’t do any of that.”

There were no zingers, according to O’Donnell. No “tell me about a challenge you’ve overcome and how you’ve overcome it” or “where do you see yourself in 10 years.”

O’Donnell said he tried to share aspects of his background with the governor that he thought Paterson might not have been familiar with, and which he believes strengthens his candidacy: he was born in Queens, grew up on Long Island, worked in Brooklyn and his partner of 28 years is from the Capital Region, with ties from Montgomery to Washington counties.

“I don’t know how many people he’s interviewed for this position who’ve been the keynote speaker at the Delaware County dinner, but I have. And Columbia County,” O’Donnell said.

He said he gives himself a 10 percent chance at getting the job, up from five percent before the move. Otherwise, Paterson “wouldn’t’ waste his or my time.”

“It certainly would be a bold choice to pick someone who would be the first openly gay U.S. senator, and he’s known as a bold guy,” O’Donnell said.

The Case for Danny O’Donnell, As He Made It