Caroline Kennedy told New York's governor on Monday that she's interested in the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton, making her the highest-profile candidate to express a desire for the job. Democratic Gov. David Paterson will choose the replacement. "She told me she was interested in the position," Paterson said. "It's not a campaign. She'd like at some point to sit down."
I don't know why we allow governors to appoint senators. An outgoing senator should be replaced by way of a special election, among a field of candidates. The candidate with the most votes wins. This seems to be the fair solution to me. It allows the people's voice to be heard. I think it might even eliminate some fraud, in light of the Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich scandal.
Caroline Kennedy's spokesman, Stefan Friedman, declined to comment.
Clinton is expected to be confirmed as President-elect Barack Obama's secretary of state.
At an afternoon news conference to discuss last week's paralyzing ice storm, New York's senior senator, Charles Schumer, said he has also talked to Caroline Kennedy about the job.
"And she's clearly interested," he said.
Over the past week, Kennedy, who lives in Manhattan, has reached out to several prominent New York Democrats to tell them of her interest in the Senate seat. They included Joel Klein, chancellor of the New York City Department of Education. Kennedy worked closely with Klein as executive of the Office of Strategic Partnerships for the New York City Department of Education, where she raised about $65 million for the city's schools.
"I think she's thought about it a long time," Klein said of a conversation he had with Kennedy on Monday. He said the campaigning she did for Obama this year helped acquaint her with the gritty rituals of retail politics.
"She's a highly determined woman and she's clearly been thinking about her life and how to make an effective contribution," Klein said. "Everyone knows Caroline, and everyone has a great historical respect for the Kennedy family."
Other Democrats who appear to be on Paterson's short list include New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who won't say publicly whether he's interested.
One of the early front-runners, Rep. Nydia Velazquez of Brooklyn, took herself out of the running Friday.
Paterson will appoint someone to fill Clinton's seat for two years if she is confirmed as secretary of state.
Republicans wasted no time in criticizing Kennedy as unqualified for the job and unfamiliar with the state.
"If anything, it makes me more determined to run," said Rep. Peter King, a Long Island Republican who has already expressed his interest in the seat.
"As far as record of achievement, I strongly believe that I'm much more qualified, much more experienced, and have an independent record," King said. "Nothing against Caroline Kennedy, but I don't think anyone has a right to a seat."
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