Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the New York State Assembly, has reportedly come out against Caroline Kennedy becoming the state's next U.S. Senator. Silver, a Democrat himself, seems to think that Kennedy, also a Democrat, is too close to Mayor Bloomberg of New York, who is a Republican as a matter of convenience but is virtually his own faction, and a rich one at that. Silver has openly questioned whether a Sen. Kennedy would represent the state's interests or Bloomberg's. Meanwhile, Governor Paterson, whose decision will be the final word, is said to be bristling at suggestions, including some from Bloomberg's camp, that Kennedy is the inevitable choice. Paterson has made it known that he's in no hurry to make an appointment, and he needn't be, since Sen. Clinton will not actually resign her seat until she's confirmed as Secretary of State. The governor seems to be saying: I haven't made up my mind yet, and no one should assume that I have. Naturally, he wants to keep his options open, although the best option, which would be to call a special election, is beyond his power.
Meanwhile, the new issue of The Nation features an item by John Nichols which follows up on this blog entry and answers the opposition to the special election idea. Why should special senatorial elections be objectionable due to their expense, Nichols suggests, when all vacancies in the House of Representatives are already filled that way? He also notes that only three states out of 50 provide for special elections for senatorial vacancies. It will be interesting to see how many others begin to take steps to change their laws during the next year. Unfortunately, none is a realistic guess so long as most people presume that senatorial scandals and scrambles are problems only in New York and Illinois.