News & Politics

Kerry Kennedy: How About Bobby? (Um, no.)


It was an odd day in the Clinton senate-seat sweepstakes yesterday.

Kerry Kennedy appeared shortly before 9 a.m. on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and elaborately promoted the candidacy of her brother, environmental activist Bobby Kennedy Jr., saying she “was talking to him about it yesterday and urged him to go, go, go” for the seat, which was once held by their father. She added that Kennedy Jr. was “definitely on the short list” for possible appointment by Governor David Paterson, and that he had spoken to Paterson about it.

Paterson will name a successor to Senator Hillary Clinton when she resigns, and that appointee will serve until a special election in 2010. Kerry Kennedy, who was appearing on the show to focus attention
on a fundraising auction for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights and Justice, said her brother would make an “extraordinary” senator.

While Kerry Kennedy was pressed about her brother’s possible appointment by host Joe Scarborough, no one mentioned that the leading candidate for the post in most media reports is her former husband,
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo, who divorced Kerry Kennedy in 2003, hasn’t said anything publicly about whether he’s interested in the appointment. One obstacle for Cuomo is that he has joint custody of his three daughters, who live with Kerry in New York. He is known to frequently bring them to his downtown office on workdays.

By 10:30 a.m., however, Jonathan Hicks was posting an item on a New York Times blog quoting Bobby Kennedy Jr. as saying that he’d told the governor that he wasn’t interested in the appointment. Apparently, sometime between his conversation with Kerry on Monday, and 6 p.m. that night,
when Kennedy called Paterson, he made up his mind not to seek the post. Kennedy told the Times that he had spent the last few weeks speaking with other members of the Kennedy family about possibly seeking this office, but decided that assuming the seat would leave him too little time with his wife and six children. Instead, Kennedy said his cousin Caroline, the daughter of former president John Kennedy, “would be the perfect choice if she would agree to it.” He said he didn’t know if Caroline, who emerged as a major supporter of Barack Obama this year, was interested.

Scarborough launched yesterday’s roller coaster ride by asking if there was a “possibility” Bobby would consider the senate seat. But Kerry was eager to talk about it, immediately replying: “I think that would be very, very exciting.” Bobby Kennedy’s endorsement of Caroline suggests that the family retains an interest in the seat, regardless of how that might impact on Cuomo. News stories have already appeared suggesting that Paterson believes Cuomo is generating a press campaign for the appointment without saying anything on the record himself.


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