With Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s confirmation hearing for secretary of state set for Tuesday, the question becomes when the clock will start for Governor Paterson to pick her successor.
Clinton aides said this morning that Clinton would not be officially confirmed by the full Senate until after President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath of office on Jan. 20. So Clinton plans to serve in the Senate until she is confirmed.
That appears to mean that Paterson has at least a week and a half to make and announce a decision, allowing him as he said yesterday to focus first on picking a new chief judge to the Court of Appeals. That decision is due by Thursday.
Of course, there was some speculation today that Paterson could move up his timeline because it appears Clinton will cruise through her confirmation hearing, with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee expected to vote to confirm her on Thursday.
But Paterson indicated this morning that he’s leery of doing that, saying in that Fox interview that making an announcement early could backfire.
He pointed to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who withdrew from being commerce secretary in the Obama administration because of an ongoing pay-to-play scandal.
“What happened in New Mexico?. He withdrew, didn’t he?” Paterson said. “My point is that if a candidate withdrew, then I’d have a candidate out there who won’t be appointed and 50 people upset that they weren’t even thought of.”
“So I think that the right choice, at least for me, is to wait until the process ends and then select someone.”