Paterson Must Appoint a Woman

During the election of 2000, some political watchers in New York State (and beyond) were treated to a rare, but not unheard of, series of events surrounding the race for the US Senate. A congresswoman named Nita Lowey was viewed by many as the presumptive Democratic nominee, set to replace Daniel Moynihan who was ill and retiring. Lowey had the good opinion of nearly everyone in the Congress, the New York delegation in particular and the state party apparatus. The New York Republicans, in 2000, had Rick Lazio. Then Hillary Clinton moved to New York.

Lowey stepped aside, graciously. Hillary ran and won. And now she will soon be gone and New York's "Celebrity Senate Seat" is in play again. Who would best represent the State of New York in that office? What criteria should be used? What effect does the current Illinois scandal have on this decision?

When Hillary Clinton ran for President, she ran as a woman, in my opinion, and I believe that is why she lost. She invoked her Glass Ceiling Sister Act whenever she found it useful while Obama made far less of his race during the campaign. (I did not say he made nothing of it, only less of it.)

Hillary Clinton might have won, if not for that. It isn't a good idea for anyone seeking a singular office like the Presidency to make that distinction. This country has been run for centuries by men only, and men named Adams and Wilson, Ford and Reagan, Carter and Clinton. To break that mold, you almost had to avoid the subject of breaking any mold whatsoever. (Witness some of Obama's recent appointments.)

But in a state like New York, teeming with talented, ambitious and dedicated women within its political circles, in a state like New York that has already elected a woman to one of its current US Senate terms, in any state wherein the Congressional delegation provides for two US Senators to hold office, Governor David Paterson must appoint a woman to replace Senator Clinton. It is not difficult to imagine that we are at the place in the history of New York politics where this is "the women's seat" of the two from New York.

There are names being tossed around now, but let's spare New Yorker's the Celebrity Senate Seat dynamic, in which Mrs. Clinton's former job is handled like some corporate board seat, traded to everyone's mutual benefit except the voters of New York. Most of the names thrown around now are smart, caring New Yorkers. But only one is both fair and makes real sense for our state. Nita Lowey doesn't want it. Appoint Carolyn Maloney.