Governor's Office: 'No Front-runner' for N.Y. Senate Appointment
By Shailagh Murray
Gov. David Paterson hasn't made up his mind about the New York Senate seat, but the rumors are swirling.
Today's brushfire: An Associated Press report quoting two unnamed sources close to Paterson asserting their belief that his pick will be Caroline Kennedy.
"The AP story is incorrect," said Paterson spokesman Errol Cockfield. "There is no front-runner, and the governor is not on the verge of any decision."
Paterson has said that he will "move quickly" to fill the seat once its current occupant, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, resigns as planned upon her confirmation as secretary of State in the incoming Obama administration. A Senate hearing on Clinton's nomination is expected sometime the week of Jan. 12.
In Washington, Kennedy is generally viewed as an ideal successor to Clinton, who launched her own Empire State political career as an unlikely contender, being a former first lady. Kennedy's stature as the sole surviving member of John F. Kennedy's immediate family would make her an instant celebrity in a chamber stacked with lower-profile types and could accord her a degree of clout disproportionate to her junior standing.
Kennedy's prospects seemed to dim somewhat in recent weeks, once she began to campaign openly for the job. She received mostly poor reviews for her lack of policy specificity; her unwillingness to be more candid about her private life, including her finances; and even her flat speaking style.
But she made up ground on Wednesday, when one of her most prominent critics, state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, appeared to reversed course. Silver had repeatedly questioned Kennedy's credentials, but then he told New York City television station CBS 2 HD, "She's obviously very bright and has been around politics her whole life."
On Thursday, Paterson refuted another news report that he was considering naming a senior statesman, like former governor Mario Cuomo or former president Bill Clinton, as a caretaker until the 2010 special election. That approach would allow Paterson -- a former lieutenant governor who rose to the top job when former governor Eliot Spitzer resigned due to a sex scandal -- to avoid controversy as he prepares to place his own name on the 2010 ballot.
Asked about the caretaker approach, Paterson told a group of reporters, "I'm actually opposed to that. It would cause New York to lose seniority, and in the United States Senate, the most effective senators are the ones that have seniority. So, I'm hoping that the person I select wins a primary."
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