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The jockeying for Hillary’s seat begins early.

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A crop of New York congresspersons—including Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, Anthony Weiner, Gregory Meeks, and Joseph Crowley—have been cozying up to governor-to-be Eliot Spitzer, campaign insiders say, lobbying local leaders and squeezing longtime donors to write checks for Spitzer’s already overstuffed $36.8 million war chest. Their goal seems to be more than party unity: They want Hillary Clinton’s seat should she quit to run for president in ’08. “It’s a sub-rosa conversation that’s already happening,” says one Spitzer campaign source. “When we vote for our next governor, are we also voting for the man who will pick our next senator?” Spitzer’s spokesperson called speculative political wrangling “presumptuous.” Nadler and Weiner declined to comment; Meeks did not return calls. Maloney said she was more interested in 2007’s political landscape than any “hypothetical situation.” But Crowley says that “the real race begins” when Hillary declares her intentions.

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