The New York Times is reporting that Caroline Kennedy will "pursue" the soon-to-be vacant New York Senate seat of Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton.
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Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg speaks at the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 25 in Denver.
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Kennedy, daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy and niece of another Kennedy who previously held the seat the late Robert F. Kennedy decided "after a series of deeply personal and political conversations, in which Ms. Kennedy, who friends describe as unflashy but determined, wrestled with whether to give up what has been a lifetime of avoiding the spotlight." That, according to the Times' Nicholas Confessore, who reports that Kennedy will ask Gov. David Paterson (D) for consideration for the appointment.
Two years after JFK was elected president, his brother Ted won a Senate seat in Massachusetts, and brother Bobby was elected in New York two years after that. JFK's grandfather John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, mayor of Boston, failed in a 1916 Senate bid against Republican Henry Cabot Lodge.
Sen. Clinton said she will resign the seat once she is confirmed to the Obama Cabinet.
There has been no shortage of names thrown in the mix of potential candidates for the Senate post. As we wrote on Dec. 2, the list is thought to include state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand from upstate, Rep. Brian Higgins of Buffalo, Rep. Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan, and Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi.
But Kennedy's name has always been the most intriguing. Despite near-universal name recognition, she has never taken an active political role until this year, when she endorsed Barack Obama's presidential candidacy and later served on his VP vetting team. She was even mentioned by some as a potential Obama running mate.
There had been some speculation that Kennedy's name was thrown out there simply as a distraction that Gov. Paterson resented (according to some of the whispering going on) the ambitions of AG Cuomo, and the public mulling over of Caroline was an opportunity to buy Paterson some time to come up with an Anyone But Andrew appointment. (It should be noted that Caroline's cousin, Kerry, had a very public and very nasty divorce from Cuomo, so there's no love lost between them.)
(And you wonder how much warmth there is between Caroline and Hillary. The Clintons had lobbied hard for the endorsement of Sen. Ted Kennedy, and many in the Clinton camp were thrown for a loop when Ted and Caroline joined the Obama bandwagon.)
But it no longer looks like Caroline is a smoke screen. According to the Times' report, she wants it and has been lobbying Dem pols such as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
For the record, it should be pointed out that not everyone is falling over himself praising the possibility of Caroline Kennedy in the Senate. Rep. Gary Ackerman, a Democrat from Queens, said in a WOR radio interview last week, "I don't know what Caroline Kennedy's qualifications are. Except that she has name recognition, but so does J Lo. I wouldn't make J Lo the senator unless she proved she had great qualifications, but we haven't seen them yet."
On the Republican side, Rep. Peter King of Long Island says he is planning to run regardless of whom Paterson appoints. (There will be a special election in 2010 to fill the last two years of Clinton's term, and then another one in 2012 for the full term.)
No Republican has ever unseated a Democratic senator in New York.
Trivia question: Who was the first daughter of a president to run for public office? (First correct answer gets 15 seconds of fame in Political Junkie.)