- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2009

From combined dispatches

A person familiar with Caroline Kennedy’s decision says she has renewed her determination to win appointment to the U.S. Senate seat once held by her slain uncle, Sen. Bobby Kennedy.

The source says that after her surviving uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, suffered a seizure on Inauguration Day, Caroline Kennedy had misgivings about taking on the new job.

The source spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak for Kennedy. Earlier in the day, The New York Times and New York Post reported that Kennedy had ended her monthlong bid to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was confirmed as secretary of state.

Gov. David Paterson has said he hopes to make the appointment by this weekend

Ms. Kennedy, who highlighted her record of charitable work, service on cultural boards and efforts to reform New York’s education system, was an early front-runner when she took a short public tour upstate and sat for press interviews in December. She faltered in answering some questions and was mocked nationwide for her frequent use of “you know” and “um.”

She also had been embarrassed by a report that she had not always voted in key elections and she got off to a rocky start with local media on a trip beyond the safety of liberal Manhattan.

Mr. Paterson acknowledged Tuesday he is considering state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for appointment to the seat. The two Democrats had refused since early December to say whether Mr. Cuomo was in the running, even as the latest polls showed New Yorkers narrowly favor him over Ms. Kennedy.

“He has outstanding qualities and is someone I am considering,” Mr. Paterson told CBS News at an interview during Tuesday’s inauguration.

Mr. Paterson has been criticized by good-government groups for a secretive selection process that he defends as essential to making the best choice without regard to traditional campaigning. Mr. Paterson and Mr. Cuomo also were criticized for refusing to say whether Mr. Cuomo was interested in the Senate seat.

Mr. Paterson has said their conversations were confidential under attorney-client privilege, a legal view questioned by experts in recent interviews with the Associated Press. Mr. Cuomo said he would allow only Mr. Paterson to divulge those discussions because it was the governor’s process.

Mr. Cuomo, popular in his first term as attorney general, was considered a likely contender by several Democrats because his appointment would head off a potential primary challenge against Mr. Paterson in 2010. Mr. Cuomo ran a 2002 primary against then-Comptroller H. Carl McCall, who went on to lose his bid to be New York’s first black governor when Republican Gov. George E. Pataki won his third term.

“He’s told me he doesn’t want to run against me,” Mr. Paterson said of his private conversations with Mr. Cuomo.

With that statement, Mr. Paterson added a new element to Albany’s political speculation because Mr. Cuomo has never ruled out a run for governor in 2010. Mr. Cuomo declined through a spokesman to comment Tuesday.

Among the other hopefuls are four members of the U.S. House: Carolyn B. Maloney of New York City, Kirsten Gillibrand of the Hudson Valley-Albany, Brian Higgins of Buffalo and Steve Israel of Long Island. Also in the mix are Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

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