Cornyn meets with Pataki about Senate run

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has approached former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) about running against appointed Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandNow is the time for a US data protection agency The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren up, Bloomberg down after brutal debate Ginsburg, accepting lifetime achievement award, urges working fathers to take an active role in kids' lives MORE (D-N.Y.), according to a Pataki spokesman.

The sit-down between NRSC chairman John Cornyn (Texas) and Pataki is further evidence that Republicans see Gillibrand's hold on the seat as tenuous, at best.

Dave Catalfamo, a Pataki spokesman who confirmed the meeting took place, would not comment on the specifics discussed.

A spokesman for the NRSC refused to comment on the meeting.

"As a general rule, we don't comment on private conversations the senator has," said NRSC communications director Brian Walsh. "But as NRSC chairman of course he is speaking with and listening to top Republicans in states with potentially competitive seats."

"Frankly, it would be a surprise if he was not doing that because that's a key part of the job and one he takes seriously," Walsh added.

Picked to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Gillibrand is one of the more conservative members of New York's Democratic delegation. Gillibrand's appointment set off waves of dissatisfaction among several liberal members of Congress.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthyCarolyn McCarthyWhy Congress needs an openly atheist member, now Lobbying World Lobbying world MORE (D) is considering a challenge to Gillibrand in the 2010 primary, and a recent Quinnipiac University poll showed the Long Island Democrat beating Gillibrand, whose former district circles the state capital in Albany, by a 34 percent to 24 percent margin.

Pataki, a centrist Republican who won three terms in the governor's mansion, would give the GOP a top-tier candidate. He did not seek a fourth term in 2006 and instead briefly flirted with running for president.

But Pataki may not have the primary field to himself; Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has made his interest in running for Senate known, though in recent weeks his early intensity seems to have waned. King has said he will not make a decision about his own candidacy until the summer.