Paterson's Possible Picks: The Short List

patersonpitches.jpgIn the state chief executive business, this is as good as it gets: Governor-by-default David Paterson will now get to pick not only a United States Senator to replace the now-official Secretary of State nominee, Hillary Clinton, but the state's top judge as well.

No governor in recent history has been allowed to pull off that lovely perfecta of appointments -- let alone in the same month!

Here a quick rundown:

The entries for the Clinton vacancy sweepstakes have been widely touted: They start with state A.G. Andrew Cuomo and encompass nearly half the state's sitting Congressional representatives, including Nydia Velasquez, Jerry Nadler, Nita Lowey, Kristen Gillibrand, Steve Israel, and Brian Higgins.

There's also Buffalo mayor Byron Brown, activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and Nassau County exec Tom Suozzi. Even Adolfo Carrion has been suggested by some pundits who kept a straight face while insisting the Bronx beep as a possible senator. Now comes the entry list for approved candidates to a job much nearer and dearer to the state's real power brokers: Lawyers. Thanks to the retirement of longtime Chief Judge Judith Kaye, Paterson gets to choose the next head of the highest court, the state Court of Appeals.

A 12-member bipartisan panel, headed by John O'Mara, a close ally of former gov George Pataki, released its approved list of candidates this morning. Paterson gets to pick from one of the below:

Leading contender Jonathan Lippmann, a Kaye favorite who now presides over the all-important appellate division in Manhattan, got the panel's OK, as did fellow appellate court jurist Steven Fisher.

The panel also recommended two sitting members of the top court, Theodore Jones, an African-American judge who issued tough rulings in the transit strike three years ago, and upstate jurist Eugene Pigott, Jr.

Also dubbed qualified are three non-judges: Former city corporation counsel Peter Zimroth; George Carpinello, a partner in David Boies' law firm, and Evan Davis, former counsel to ex-gov Mario Cuomo.

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