ABC News’ John Berman and Teddy Davis Report:
A shift in Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand’s Friday schedule stoked speculation in Washington Thursday evening that the Democratic congresswoman is New York Gov. David Paterson’s choice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the United States Senate.
As of Wednesday evening, Gillibrand was slated to be in Washington, D.C., through Monday.
In a change of plans, Gillibrand is now "in Albany Friday," according to her spokeswoman.
Gillibrand’s office is saying that "there is no availability before the Governor’s Announcement" which is slated to take place in Albany at 12 noon ET on Friday.
ABC News has learned that Paterson’s office called top Senate contenders Thursday night to discuss his announcement which was planned for Friday in Albany, N.Y. In at least one of those conversations, the Paterson camp made clear he intended to appoint Gillibrand to the vacant Senate seat.
Gillibrand, who has a 95 percent rating from the National Rifle Association, has drawn fire from Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., whose husband was killed by a gunman on the Long Island Railroad.
Democratic insiders in Washington are praising the pick, however, believing that she will play well in upstate New York and on Long Island, two places where a Democrat can be vulnerable in the Empire State.
Her background includes having voted against the Wall Street bailout twice when it came before the House in September, speaking out against former Gov. Elliot Spitzer’s, D-N.Y., plan to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, and never voting to make funding for the Iraq war contingent on a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal.
She is a strong fundraiser, an advocate of "pay as you go" budgeting, and seen by Democratic insiders as "more battle tested" than Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of former President John F. Kennedy who withdrew her name from consideration earlier this week out of a stated desire to "put family first."