THE NEWS SAYS:

New York Daily News - - NEWS -

Law­mak­ers should pick Un­der­wood al­ready.

Six hours of Al­bany hear­ings in which 11 can­di­dates pre­sented their cre­den­tials to be in­terim at­tor­ney gen­eral have con­cluded. The dozen law­mak­ers lead­ing the pro­ceed­ings could have stopped after the first con­tender, Bar­bara Un­der­wood.

Leg­is­la­tors of­fered bi­par­ti­san, bi­cam­eral praise for Un­der­wood, who has served more than a decade as New York’s solic­i­tor gen­eral, in charge of all ap­peals, and who has been act­ing AG since Eric Sch­nei­der­man im­ploded last week.

Also stat­ing that Un­der­wood was the un­equiv­o­cal best choice to fill out the term un­til Dec. 31 were the other can­di­dates for the job. One after an­other, they deemed her the ideal pick.

So, get it over with — and name a stel­lar, up­right, no-non­sense, whip-smart lawyer who can keep the of­fice run­ning be­tween now and the elec­tion, when the vot­ers can make their choice.

Speak­ing of which: Wed­nes­day, the first per­son threw her hat in the ring elec­torally: the city’s pub­lic ad­vo­cate, Tish James.

Un­til a few days ago, James seemed happy to get the job via a leg­isla­tive deal. Then, amidst a storm of crit­i­cism from this page and oth­ers about the risks of a bunch of pols giv­ing one can­di­date the leg up of in­cum­bency, she wisely backed out and chose to com­pete on a level play­ing field.

We en­cour­age other se­ri­ous con­tenders to jump in. A job this big de­mands a real con­test.

Un­der­wood re­peat­edly says she will not run. Still, it’s en­tic­ing to imag­ine a par­al­lel uni­verse in which an em­i­nently qual­i­fied lawyer like her, who’s clerked in the Supreme Court, taught at Yale and been U.S. solic­i­tor gen­eral, would be drafted by both par­ties as a non­par­ti­san pro­fes­sional, as urged by Sens. Phil Boyle and Tony Avella. Alas, we’ll have to set­tle for a politi­cian.

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