03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

"Informed Sources": What Really Happened When Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin Got Into Upstate New York Politics

As New York residents know, ever since Governor Spitzer got caught in the wrong hotel room, Albany has been in turmoil. The latest tempest involved the 23rd Congressional district where, to the astonishment of the political establishment, the Republican candidate was forced out of the race because of her positions on gay and abortion rights. Her departure left the field wide open for the Conservative Party nominee.

Who forced her out--Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and the other far-right Conservatives, who argued that a woman who supported abortion rights and gay marriage should not run be on the Republican ticket. (The Democratic candidate won, but that's beside the point.) The question is why did the Republican Party drop its own nominees and abandon out the race?

The answer (according to "informed sources"): former NY Governor George Pataki brokered a deal in an attempt to sew up his nomination on the Conservative line if he runs for the Senate in 2012. After the deal was announced Pataki made a statement in support of the Conservative candidate and campaigned for him. Pataki had been backed by the New York Conservative Party when he ran for Governor, but he was perceived as relatively "moderate" during his three terms in office. According to my sources, Pataki's political ambitions are centered on a Senate run for the seat formerly held by Hillary Clinton and now, thanks to Spitzer's successor as Governor David Paterson, occupied by Kirsten Gillibrand, a former upstate Democratic Congresswoman.

How did she get the nod from Paterson? My sources suggest that former Republican Senator Al D'Amato, a close Pataki political ally, and now an equally close advisor to Democratic Governor Paterson, persuaded him to choose the little known Gillibrand over Caroline Kennedy (JFK's daughter). who had been expected to gain the appointment. Paterson's decision seemed abrupt and strange, and was certainly badly handled. The appointment brought upon him the wrath of many in the Democratic Party, and according to polls, has reduced his popularity with Democrats in the state to a mere 17%.

Who has it helped? Certainly George Pataki, Al D'Amato's close pal. Gillibrand, who has done a pretty good job as Senator, is a far less formidable opponent than Caroline Kennedy would've been if Pataki decides to run in 2012.

But still, why did Pataki broker the deal in the first place? The answer: he wants to ensure the support of the Limbaugh-Palin wing of the Republican Party; he doesn't want a challenge for the Senate spot on the Conservative Party line either. So according to my upstate New York "informed sources", the biggest winner in last Tuesday's New York election is George Pataki. Republicans may have lost a seat in the House of Representatives, but that's a small price to pay if they gain a Senate seat in 2012.

As for pro-tem Governor David Paterson, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is favored to win the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2010 and Patterson may be consigned to the dustbin of Albany history. It cannot come too soon.