January 22, 2009
Kennedy Is Said to Withdraw Senate Bid
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE and DANNY HAKIM
Caroline Kennedy has withdrawn from consideration for the vacant Senate seat in New York, according to a person told of her decision.
On Wednesday she called Gov. David A. Paterson, who will choose a successor to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Her concerns about Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s deteriorating health (he was hospitalized after suffering a seizure during President Obama’s inaugural lunch on Tuesday ) prompted her decision to withdraw, this person said. Coping with her uncle’s condition was her most important priority, a situation not conducive to starting a high profile public job.
Mr. Paterson had indicated to her that the job was hers if she would accept it, the person said.
She was planning to issue a statement on Wednesday evening.
Ms. Kennedy’s decision comes nearly two months after she, along with several members of Congress and leading political officials, began auditioning to replace Mrs. Clinton in the coveted position.
Her decision to withdraw is certain to startle the political world. Ms. Kennedy had gained the support of some powerful backers in the state, including several labor officials and a top aide to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Kevin Sheekey.
But her pursuit of the seat also set off resistance, with some local Democratic officials suggesting it smacked of entitlement, and polls showing voters preferring Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo for the position. Ms. Kennedy, 51, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy and a resident of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, has never served in public office.
Gov. Paterson plans to announce his selection on Saturday. The governor has been coy about his decision, and while he has praised Ms. Kennedy, he has also spoken approvingly of other candidates, including Mr. Cuomo and Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is beginning her second term as a congresswoman from the Albany area.
Mrs. Clinton resigned from the Senate late Wednesday, immediately after being sworn in as secretary of state.