It seems all but official. New York Governor David Paterson reportedly plans to appoint his fellow Democrat, Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand, to fill the U.S. Senate seat that had been held by Hillary Clinton.
Gillibrand, 42, represents an upstate district that includes Glens Falls and Saratoga Springs.
She is said to be a centrist. The American Conservative Union gave her a rating of 8 on a scale of 100, for her 2007 House voting record. So she seems not exactly to be what one would call a right-winger, but that is the most conservative rating of any New Yorker in the U.S. House for that year.
On the other side, the latest numbers published by the Americans for Democratic Action, which were for 2008, gave her a 70% rating (100% being the far left of the scale), which was the least liberal rating of any New York member of the House.
My guess is that Paterson might be taking the following two considerations into account:
Shoring up his right flank, in preparation for his own run for a full term next year, and
Finding a female candidate to replace the female former senator. This revives the debate that took place when Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her intention to retire from the federal Supreme Court in 2005. President Bush originally appointed Harriet Miers to the position that eventually went to Samuel Alito.
UPDATE: The reports that had begun circulating by this morning were correct. Paterson has now publicly announced his appointment of Gillibrand. This account in a Wall Street Journal blog gives more detail, and gives us a lesson in the wondrous flexibility of the English language. I never knew that "to primary" is a verb, as in "if no one goes and primaries her, I will primary her".
CORRECTION: I incorrectly described how Gillibrand fits in, with the ratings of her voting record. She has the highest conservative score, and the lowest liberal score of any Democrat in the New York delegation. The small minority of New York House members who are Republicans are rated more conservative than she is.