Replacing Hillary: A New York Political Minefield

Out here in New York, Democratic Governor David Paterson finds himself in the unusual role of holding an embarrassment of riches. Having been placed in the unenviable position of needing to fill Senator Hillary Clinton's sensible pantsuits in the nation's upper chamber, he is rewriting the old Shakespearean Twelfth Night adage to read, "Some people are born to greatness while others have greatness dropped upon their doorstep like a bag of flaming dog poo."

The original script of the Hudson Valley power brokers never included Paterson spending his nights in the Empire State's governor's mansion, to say nothing of filling a seat in the newly burgeoning Democratic Senate majority.

Ignoring his early displays of talent as a peace broker between Sheldon Silver and Joe Bruno, liberals in Albany viewed the legally blind, African-American politico as the perfect minority vermouth to Elliot Spitzer's gin, but they had no plans for him to play first chair.

Had the Sheriff of Wall Street not been discovered in flagrante delicto with a woman of negotiable affections, Paterson might never have faced this quandary.

As things stand, however, local sources indicate that the governor's arm is being twisted into shapes previously imagined only by bakers of opiate laced pretzels. The Old Money of the Hudson Valley has not forgotten the way the DNC foisted an Arkansas carpetbagger off on them in 2000 and would like to see some home grown talent move up, so Paterson is no doubt grateful that the Cigar Aficionado in Chief has demurred from possible consideration. Likewise, Bobby Kennedy's son has passed on the seat, as did Michael Bloomberg. Still, Paterson faces a minefield in the remaining contenders.