It didn’t have to be this way. If Paterson had appointed himself or Carolyn Kennedy to the Senate

It just didn’t have to end this way.

Governor David Paterson on a farewell tour, counting down his final days in office.

President Obama names Hillary Clinton Secretary of State. What if Paterson had appointed himself as Clinton’s Senate successor? What if Paterson had opened that door?

Today Paterson could have a national platform as one of the two senators from the Great State of New York– instead of Kirsten Gillibrand, who was a relative unknown at the time.

Senator Charles Schumer may have wanted Gillibrand. Granted, Gillibrand may have been good to help counter an all male ticket, and coming from a Conservative Upstate District, but Governor Paterson, to borrow a popular phrase from ESPN, “Come On Man.”

What about the first rule of politics (for successful officials) and that’s self preservation.

Some of us in political circles never understood why he just didn’t appoint himself.

Let’s look at what Paterson could have avoided.

Not only could Paterson have dodged the dysfunction of Albany and the huge budget mess there, not to even mention the power struggle in the State Senate where one day Democrats had control, the next day Republicans, but Paterson could have also avoided what was the beginning of his political end – even though he didn’t know it at the time, and that’s the mess of how he handled Carolyn Kennedy.

On this farewell tour Paterson is revealing many things, and even NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg told Paterson exactly the same thing. To appoint himself.

"I don't think that was just a private conversation. He was pretty open about that," Paterson told Radio Interviewer John Gambling the other day.

So why? Why would Paterson turn down the U.S. Senate, which was the original plan for him to begin with, under team Spitzer.

Turns out Paterson says he was afraid of losing.

"But here is what I told the mayor: Of the last ten governors who appointed themselves to the Senate, all of them lost the next time there was an election except one."
That one, Paterson said, was Happy Chandler, former governor and senator from Kentucky.

Paterson said that the other reason he did not appoint himself was because there was no lieutenant governor—since the seat was vacated when Paterson took over for Eliot Spitzer.

"The other problem was, if you remember at that time if I had appointed myself to the Senate, there was no lieutenant governor and there was already a fight as to who was going to control the Senate, so I think if I had appointed myself to the Senate it would have touched off a major power crisis in the state, which I think rightly would have been blamed on me."

Paterson may have been blamed for a moment, but wouldn't he feel a lot better as a U.S Senator now, rather than a governor with only a few days left in office.

Why would Paterson worry about losing the senate seat when Elliot Spitzer as Governor was going to name Paterson to the senate anyway, should Hillary Clinton had won the White House. Spitzer has already admitted all of this publicly.

Paterson will now spend the rest of his life saying what if?

In fact, a strong argument could also be made Paterson would still be the Governor in January if he had just appointed Carolyn Kennedy to the U.S. Senate.

Paterson came under heavy artillery attack, criticized for a senate selection process that was secretive, disorganized, and made him look like he was not “ready for prime time.”

The famous Kennedy name was dragged through the mud by the Governor’s team, and for what? It amounted to touching the political third rail, and here is what our friends at Wikipedia have to say about that.

“The third rail in a railway is the exposed electrical conductor that carries high voltage power. Stepping on the high-voltage third rail usually results in electrocution. The use of the term in politics serves to emphasize the "shock" that results from raising the controversial idea, and the "political death" or (political suicide) that the unaware or provocative politician would encounter as a result.”

If Paterson had gone with Kennedy, the Kennedy clan would have raised millions for his re-election campaign, and Andrew Cuomo while he would have wanted too—but probably would have never challenged Paterson in a primary and instead run for re-election to State Attorney General.

The Governor of Colorado filled a similar vacancy in two weeks. Paterson allowed the situation to become a major distraction and last for 53 long days. Maybe, if Paterson had gone with Kennedy, President Obama (who was pushing Kennedy) would not have come to Albany, all but endorsing Andrew Cuomo.

If Paterson had gone with Kennedy, imagine this: I dare say Paterson running for Governor would have appeared unbeatable.

As for Carolyn Kennedy, perhaps she was trying to keep Camelot alive for another generation, but even her critics have to be honest and admit that she would have delivered for New York.

As for David Paterson, it was not fair to call him the “accidental” Governor.

Talk about taking over the Titanic! One day Paterson went to lunch, and minutes later was told the mess was now in his lap, he would be sworn in as Governor.

You also have to admire him for how he handles his blind disability.

But Governor, you should have appointed Carolyn Kennedy to the Senate.

If you had done so, you could now call in that valuable chip with President Obama for a cabinet post, or Ambassador job anywhere in the world.

And if not Kennedy, then Governor perhaps you should have taken the job yourself.

What if?