YES, NO, MAYBE? UH…NO.
* Just one day after President-elect Obama nominated Hillary Clinton to be his secretary of state, RFK Jr. put the quick kabosh on speculation that he may wish to reclaim his late father’s former U.S. senate seat. To all of our friends in New York State, we’re sorry to report that there won’t be another Senator Kennedy representing you anytime soon. Or perhaps ever.
From the New York Times today:
Another name can now be added to the list of public figures withdrawing their names from consideration as possible successors to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer and son of the onetime senator from New York, said this morning that he had telephoned Gov. David A. Paterson and explained that he was not interested being appointed to the United States Senate.
According to people who know the governor’s preferences, Mr. Paterson has been interested in a candidate who is from upstate, or a woman or someone who is Hispanic. But he has also been interested in appointing someone with the kind of marquee name that would generate enthusiasm — and campaign contributions — in defending the seat in a 2010 campaign.
And Mr. Kennedy, whose father served in the Senate from New York from 1965 until his assassination in as a presidential candidate in 1968, was one of those in that latter category. He has been a prominent environmental lawyer in the state, having written two books and several articles on environmental issues. That list of potential appointees also includes Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy.
YES, HE CAN? NO….HE CAN’T.
Mr. Kennedy said he had concluded that a successful campaign would have left him too little time with his wife and six children and he was unwilling to make that sacrifice. He said he had spent time in the last few weeks speaking with other members of the Kennedy family before making his decision.
“I have spent lots of time thinking about it,” Mr. Kennedy said in an interview. “I have spent time talking with my uncle, by brothers, my cousin and, of course, my wife. And I think I’m in a good position right now doing what I’m doing.”
Mr. Kennedy is the third of the senator’s 11 children and a nephew of President Kennedy and of Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. He is the host of a program on the Air America radio network and served as senior lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit organization that works to expand environmental laws. Earlier in his career, he was an assistant district attorney in Manhattan.
He is the second public figure in the last two days to turn down the idea of serving in the Senate. On Monday, United Sates Representative Nita M. Lowey, a Democrat who represents Westchester County, said through a spokesman that she did not want to be considered for the job, which will become vacant if Mrs. Clinton is confirmed by the Senate.
“Right now, I’m trying to help move the country in the transition from oil dependency to renewables,” Mr. Kennedy said. “I really enjoy my advocacy work. I am doing things right now that I truly enjoy and that I feel are really making a difference.”
Mr. Kennedy has long had an interest in politics and has at times hinted that he might be interested in running for public office. Last year, he indicated in a magazine interview that he might consider running for the Senate seat from New York if Mrs. Clinton were to win the presidential election.
He was also a strong supporter of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, although his uncle Edward and his cousin Caroline were strong supporters of Barack Obama.
A few years ago, Mr. Kennedy considered running for attorney general in New York, but he decided against it for similar reasons. The winner of that 2006 race was Andrew M. Cuomo, who was once married to Mr. Kennedy’s sister Kerry.
When asked whether his cousin Caroline might be interested in the job, Mr. Kennedy said: “Caroline Kennedy would be the perfect choice if she would agree to it.” They have not spoken about it, he said, and he does not know what she would do.
He said that his uncle, Senator Kennedy of Massachusetts, had advised him that the right time for him to seek public office might come one day.
“He always advises me to spend time with my family,” Mr. Kennedy said. “He always tells me that, it often seems like things won’t open up. But yet they do. I hope one day that I’ll be able to do public service and government. It might happen one day.”