Peter King for New York Senator?

Depending on the final decision pending from New York Governor David Paterson regarding Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat, this could turn into a very interesting story.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn met today with Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), and intends on supporting him as the congressman strongly considers a run for the Senate in New York.

“Senator Cornyn believes Peter King would be a very formidable candidate. He believes the seat could be in play, and is prepared to commit the resources to win the seat,” said a senior Republican aide familiar with the meeting.

A source close to King confirmed that the congressman is strongly considering running for the Senate. He is expected to make a final decision whether to run “soon after” Gov. David Paterson appoints a successor for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat

Paterson is in a shaky position already here in New York, and a serious misstep in appointing Clinton’s successor could set him up for a fall when he runs for his first full term as Governor in 2010. Likewise, if he either places a caretaker or a weak candidate, the Senate seat may be up for grabs as well. As of this morning, Paterson is playing coy and has sent out a lengthy background information form to a number of Senate hopefuls, but he may still go with Caroline Kennedy. (Kennedy has a history of not wanting to discuss her financial situation, but may have to do so in order to get this prize.)

Peter King is likely the GOP’s best hope (besides Rudy Giuliani) to seize either the Governor’s office or the Senate seat in 2010. Both Paterson and – potentially – Caroline Kennedy have been suffering from “The Utica Problem” (where politicians perceived as being too much in the pocket of New York City anger the more conservative, rural upstate voters) this winter, so Republicans are sensing an opportunity. King has a long, successful record in Nassau County, and has suffered remarkably little in the way of scandal or controversy outside of his interests in Ireland’s troubles.

King also has other reasons to be interested in a new job. New York is expected to lose one House seat in the upcoming redistricting shuffle and the Congressman is one of only three remaining Republicans in the state delegation. With Democratic majorities in both chambers of the state government and the Governor’s mansion, insiders expect them to look to remove one of these few GOP seats, so King’s current job may go the way of the dodo bird. If he can raise the money for such a run, King will likely be a formidable candidate.