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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."

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 2, 2009; 3:36 PM ET
Categories:  Hill Transition  
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Comments

I lived in New York through the Al D'Amato campaigns, Giuliani campaigns and Pataki campaigns. Republicans can win statewide in New York. People don't realize how hard Hillary Clinton campaigned in 2000 vs the lazy Lazio campaign that hardly tried in upstate NY. That was not a cakewalk for Hillary and if Caroline or Harry Reid or whoever thinks that Senate seat is safe just because she's a Democrat, they are underestimating New Yorkers. 2010 will not be a presidential year and that will mean a drop-off in Democratic voters.

Posted by: Malia2 | January 4, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Andrew Cuomo is at least an experienced choice, but there are others. If the Democratic party does not want to simply hand over the seat to a new even worse Republican Al D'Amato in 2010, then a serious candidate with firm knowledge of public policy, political experience of some sort running for any public office much less holding one, and a serious background in public service would be preferable to Kennedy. The most qualified New Yorker should be appointed to this position, and with all due respect to those who are nostalgic for the Kennedy dynasty, Caroline Kennedy is not the most qualified and would be an unfortunate choice for New York.

Posted by: jt16 | January 3, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

The best choice for the Senate is Andrew Cuomo. Caroline Kennedy is not going to have an easy time in 2010 against either Peter King or Rudy Guiliani. I don't see her as aggressive enough to campaign actively against the attacks and criticisms of either King or Guiliani. Cuomo will, on the other hand, be able to run a strong campaign against either GOP candidate, and keep the Senate seat Democratic.

Posted by: POLITHIST | January 3, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

The best choice for the Senate is Andrew Cuomo. Caroline Kennedy is not going to have an easy time in 2010 against either Peter King or Rudy Guiliani. I don't see her as aggressive enough to campaign actively against the attacks and criticisms of either King or Guiliani. Cuomo will, on the other hand, be able to run a strong campaign against either GOP candidate, and keep the Senate seat Democratic.

Posted by: POLITHIST | January 3, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

A better candidate would be Andrew Cuomo, currently the state's Attorney General who has demonstrated that he can win a race statewide, has DC experience as Clinton's HUD secretary, and as his father's campaign manager and longtime aide when he was governor has direct experience in daily retail politics. His selection would also benefit Paterson because Cuomo is widely assumed to be planning to challenge Paterson for governor.
Even those of us who have fond memories of Caroline from the Camelot years have become disenchanted the more we hear from her--just having connections isn't enough, especially when combined with a superficial grasp of the issues and a certain snappishness and condescension. If she wants to serve, Obama should appoint her ambassador to the country of her choice.

Posted by: LWNY | January 2, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Caroline Kennedy would be a disasterous choice for the Senate from NY. Aside from her nearly total lack of knowledge of the state beyond Manhattan, she has very weak communication skills and appears to lack the toughness necessary to succeed in Washington. Furthermore, any of a number of Republicans would beat her easily in 2010 turning a Democratic seat over the GOP unnecessarily. Governor Paterson: just say NO.

Posted by: Blue_Moose | January 2, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Well, for goodness' sake! Who are the other contenders besides Kennedy?! You mention and then discard Mario Cuomo and Bill Clinton, but offer no viable substitutes.

Posted by: dotellen | January 2, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

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