Only one obvious candidate for open U.S. Senate seat

There are days when political things seem so obvious. From the day Hillary Clinton announced that she would accept Barack Obama’s invitation to be secretary of state, I have believed that the obvious candidate to take her place would be Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. My only question was whether or not she would want the job. She is a big-time New Yorker, her name is recognizable around the world, she is an expert on things educational and she is the daughter of the martyred John F. Kennedy as well as the niece of Ted Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. She’s Jackie’s daughter and no one needs to ask “Which Jackie?” She is smart, thoughtful, articulate and an answer to Governor David Paterson’s dilemma. He needs a senator who supercedes ethnic and geographic rivalries, who can raise money and win as a candidate in her own right in the same year that he is running for his first fully elected term. She is a mom, a loving wife, a rock of Gibraltar in the Kennedy family. She is a part of our history. No one will ever forget the image of a very young Caroline playing with her young brother John-John and the handsome JFK.

Politics is in her blood. She and Uncle Ted probably provided the final push that got Barack Obama over the line. I will never forget the day I saw them do it. Caroline’s speech was not that of a back room politician but a clear, thoughtful voice that I expect is to speaking as Joan Baez’s voice is to singing. When their lips move, you listen. Caroline Kennedy has the connections not only to her friend, the governor, but to the president she helped elect.Of all the names that have been mentioned, only one other is well-known by the public and that is Andrew Cuomo, the ambitious and increasingly accomplished New York Attorney General. It is well known that the younger Cuomo has always wanted to sit in the chair that Papa Mario occupied on the second floor of the State Capitol. There have been published reports indicating that Andrew wants the Senate job. In the world of hardball politics, the job of United States senator from New York is a very important one. I am not surprised that Cuomo the younger wants it. Politicians have always run from offices like state attorney general for the Unites States Senate. The question is whether David Paterson would be better off with Andrew in the Senate or with Caroline Kennedy. Put yourself in Paterson’s place. Wouldn’t you want a woman with an international reputation in the Senate seat as opposed to a rival who you know is looking to replace you when and if you make a political blunder? You certainly have the advantage of promoting another woman to the Senate seat in a state where this means a lot. To me, it’s a no-brainer. Even if Andrew got down on his knees and promised never, ever, ever to betray you, would you believe him? If Caroline was not in the race David Paterson would have to consider Cuomo, with his name recognition, over some of the others who are what I have always called “Who-theys” in politics.

Even the upstate downstate conundrum would be solved because Caroline Kennedy transcends the issues. Choosing an obscure member of Congress from New York just wouldn’t meet your political needs. Nope, Caroline Kennedy is the obvious candidate. If she runs, every Kennedy from all over the country will be out there campaigning for her, including her cousin Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Of course, this is far from a done deal. No matter what the published reports say, she still has to want it. The Kennedy legacy of martyrdom is not to be ignored and that has to sit heavily on Caroline’s mind. If I were David Paterson, who is going to need all the help he can get in these dangerous times, I would seriously try to turn this opportunity into a reality.

Originally Published in the Legislative Gazette, 12/12/08

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