Governor Paterson introduced his long-awaited pick to fill Hillary Clinton's Senate seat, upstate Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand. Politicker NY reports Gillibrand said, "I realize that for many New Yorkers, this is the first time you've heard my name and you don't know much about me. But I assure you that over the next few years, you will get to know me, and I will get to know you."

Surrounded by fellow Congressional members and other lawmakers —Assembly Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith and Senator Charles Schumer—Gillibrand graciously thanked Paterson and acknowledged her family, friends and many colleagues, including Representative Carolyn McCarthy who voiced criticism of her yesterday (she said she would work with McCarthy on McCarthy's gun legislation), as Andrew Cuomo, her former boss at HUD and her predecessor (Paterson's and Gillibrand's full remarks at City Room):

Perhaps most significantly, I look to Secretary of State Clinton, whose seat Governor Paterson has now entrusted me, with great humility. … She has personally inspired me to action. … When she was first lady, she stood before thousands of people in Beijing and bravely called the world to action to recognize that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights. I, too, on that day heard her call.

Schumer called the selection of Gillibrand an "outstanding choice.. She will be, I know, a great Senator, a great partner, a great colleague." Schumer also referred to how Hillary Clinton embarked on an "upstate listening tour" when she first ran for Senate and said Gillibrand would go on a downstate listening tour—"Bayside and Bay Ridge! Washington Heights!"—adding that he believed her views on gun issues would evolve, just as his views on farming had changed. Also, while Schumer was speaking, President Obama called to offer his congratulations to Gillibrand.

Paterson claimed, "This was not based on gender, geographic location, of race, religion or sexual orientation." When asked by the NY Post's Fred Dicker if the choice wasn't about gender or geography, why did he pick a woman from upstate over more senior politicians, like Carolyn Maloney, Paterson—who said Andrew Cuomo was "ebullient" over Gillibrand— answered that Gillibrand has an incredible command of many issues, noting that she skillfully defended her voting against the financial bailout packages, and managed to win a very Republican district twice. And he also professed regret, when asked about the tortured selection process, for letting people see the "wrestling match" —essentially saying he let the process be too transparent to the public.

There will be a special election in 2010 for the Senate seat, and then the seat goes up for grabs again in 2012 (Clinton was re-elected in 2006). And SUNY New Paltz poli sci professor Gerald Benjamin says the new Senator, "She has potential Sarah Palin pizazz and energy from a different, more moderate and informed starting point, and without the negatives."