RFK Jr. Takes A Pass on NY Senate Seat (Again)


* 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.

This isn't the first time RFK Jr. has passed up a chance at his father's old senate seat. He expressed interest in running eight years ago but ultimately chose not to.

Many had hoped RFK would run in 2000, but he ultimately bowed out

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.


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.”



Filed under barack obama, election 2008, environment, global warming, hillary clinton, media, politics, RFK, RFK Jr., robert f. kennedy, robert kennedy jr., senator robert kennedy, the kennedys, Uncategorized

11 responses to “RFK Jr. Takes A Pass on NY Senate Seat (Again)

  1. NY Dem

    Really sad to hear this. I live in NYS and am sooooo glad to (almost) be rid of Hillary!

    Was hoping like crazy Kennedy would be our next Senator. Been wanting him to run for at least 10 years now.

    I respect his choice not to serve out Hillary’s term, but to be honest, his reason of “wanting to spend more time with my family” sounds kinda lame:


    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.


    Geez — makes you wonder how his father ever managed to serve as U.S. attorney general or NY Senator with 11 kids…and yet he did manage. Just fine.

    So is RFK Jr. implying here that Senators who are husbands and fathers are unable to do both simultaneously? Sort of like walking and chewing gum at the same time?

    By that logic, only unmarried, childless people should be qualified to serve in the United States Senate. WTF?

    Isn’t nearly every member of Congress married with children?

  2. WilburJ

    “Unwilling to make that sacrifice?”

    Bobby Jr. shoud recall that other members of his family (including his father, who once held that same Senate seat) were more than willing to make a much greater sacrifice than he is being asked to make. They made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

    He might want to remember what this guy said and take it to heart:

    “There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”


  3. Oooh, do I sense some disappointment out there today?

    Safe to say we’re all pretty disappointed. But maybe there is still some hope he’ll get the EPA gig.

    Then again, maybe not. If RFK Jr. is unwilling to sacrifice family time for a job in Albany (much closer to home), it seems doubtful he would consider a job in D.C. either.

  4. I was saddened and surprised to hear that Bobby isn’t interested in the senate seat — even more stunned to learn today that he’s out of the running for EPA Director, too.

    Wow. Just…wow!

    He has so often said that he would love to have his father’s old senate seat, and here seemed a golden opportunity. It was practically handed to him on a silver platter; had the appointment been proposed, Bobby likely would have been in like Flynn!

    Heck, he wouldn’t even have to run a full-fledged campaign to get the job. And once inside the hallowed halls of the senate, re-election would be almost a surety. (Hey, you’ve got to screw up pretty grossly to lose your seat in the U.S. senate…just ask Ted Stevens!)

    Based on his oft-expressed desire to serve, this is indeed a puzzling series of maneuvers. I respect and understand his reasons and hope he is at peace with his choice. Hopefully, he will not have any regrets. I conveyed these thoughts to Bobby personally yesterday and expressed my good wishes for whatever future he has in mind for himself, be it political or not.

    (btw, Tiger — just a small correction: Kennedy’s acceptance of the senate seat would not require him to move to Albany. Just as with a cabinet post, D.C. would be base of operations. Are you sure you weren’t thinking of the NY State Senate?) 🙂

  5. Chris B.

    A couple of the above posters made interesting points about RFK’s remarks that he didn’t think he could balance the demands of the senate with the demands of family.

    I saw Campbell Brown addressed this issue last night on CNN in reference to AZ Gov. janet Napolitano being nominated as Homeland Security director.

    Apparently, PA Gov. Ed Rendell was caught commenting on a live mic that Janet is perfect for the job “because she has no family and could work 19-20 hour days.”

    Campbell Brown asked if this was fair. Since male members of Congress and the administration are expected to have wives and children, is there a double standard for women?

    And if the men in government can manage to balance work and family successfully (we think?), can’t a woman do the same? Or is her role as mother/madonnna too sacred to compromise?

    Are we getting to the point now where people in public service are expected to be childless and unmarried? Like someone before me said, can’t they walk and chew gum at the same time?

    Seems that many members of Congress don’t have any problem balancing a family AND an extramarital affair (Vitter? Craig? Foley, anyone?) along with doing the people’s business… or ARE THEY doing the people’s business up there on Capitol Hill?

    Hmm. Might explain why Congress is struggling to maintain a 9% approval rating…which means that 91% percent of the American people can’t stand `em.

    91 percent, I say!

    Hardly a vote of confidence. So if our legislators can’t seem to manage having a family and a job at the same time, perhaps they should follow RFK Jr.’s lead and go spend more time with their wives and children!

    Might keep `em out of airport bathrooms and houses of ill repute where they could get in trouble, too.

    Just sayin’…….

  6. NF,

    Whoops! My bad!

    Yeah, you’re right…Albany? What was I thinking? Sorry, must have had the state senate on my mind.

    Anyway, thanks for pointing out the error! I stand corrected and duly humbled. Begging your pardon and forgiveness, Ma’am…

    …and the “Doofus of the Day Award” goes to….ME! lol.

  7. No worries, mate! I’ve never met an editor who was immune to the occasional brainfart. S*%t happens.

    Oh, by the way…speaking of our illustrious Congresscritters…

    Did anyone else happen to catch Harry Reid on C-SPAN speaking at the opening of new, supposedly improved, overpriced and overbudget Capitol Visitors Center?

    When trying to make a humorous remark about the new air conditioning system, Reid made a Freudian slip and let it be known what he REALLY thinks of the American people:

    “At least now we don’t have to smell the visitors.”

    Not kidding. Yes, he REALLY said that.

    So sorry if the great unwashed invading your personal space offends, Senator Reid. As Chris B. said above, “Given that our Congresscritters are struggling to maintain a 9% approval rating”, has it ever occurred to you that maybe we think *youze guys* stink, too?

    Whew! Somebody pass the Febreze!!!!!

  8. Man, this thing really chaps my ass! One more thing to add about Reid’s Freudian Slip, and then I’ll shut up, already….

    I noticed that a few mainstream media outlets also picked up on Sen. Reid’s offensive remark and ran with it last night. Wish more would do the same…that’s just *too telling* to be confined to the broadcast netherworld of C-SPAN. Is the video on YouTube yet?

    While a 9% approval rating certainly doesn’t smell good, flip that number and the reek really starts to emerge up from the sewers:

    If 9 percent APPROVE, that means 91 percent DISAPPROVE.

    Notice the media always puts the happiest spin possible on this and terms it an “approval rating.” But when the numbers are tilted this far the other way, perhaps they should just be honest and call it what it is…a DISAPPROVAL RATING.

    Let’s hope our Congresscritters bear this well in mind come January and do something to regain our confidence. If that number goes any lower than 9 percent, it might be time for the people to invoke certain unalienable rights…know what I’m sayin’?

    The Declaration of Independence described in simple terms what governments are meant to do, and what citizens are obliged to do if governments fail to perform to specification. “That to secure these rights,” Jefferson explained,

    “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and Happiness.”

    Jefferson went on wisely to warn that long-established governments must not be changed for “light and transient reasons.” He added, however, that the documented record of a government’s “long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing … a design to reduce them under an absolute Despotism” creates for its citizens a right and a duty “to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

  9. RFK Uninterested in Senate or EPA-Head?!?

    This really angers me. Granted, Caroline is the last living child of JFK, & seems to enjoy quite a bit of “status”, “prestige”, “seniority” in her family because of this. It’s understandable, but yet I feel Bobby has accomplished so much more, that he is such an exceptionally brilliant & bright person. She just pales next to him!

    I personally am not drawn to Caroline. I can’t give u rational explanation for this, although there has been VERY little written about her as a person, NOBODY in their right mind would ever offer up any “oral history” on Caroline as a person, friend, relative etc. That is the way she wants it. She is very zelous about keeping her family history tightly covered to the point of being hidden, except for what she wants you to know. I don’t think this extreme discretion is what is needed in a Public person, espcially a Senator. We need open, flexable people to serve in govt.

    I feel the family forced this on Bobby, Jr. I really do. It’s very selfish of Caroline to block her cousin from serving at higher levels. He would be doing so much for this country. He would be able to apply all he has done and get more accomplished for the environment were he to have served in EPA or as a Senator.

    THIS IS TERRIBLE AND IT S*C*S! I know Bobby, Jr.; has had dark passages in his younger life. His father’s murder in cold blood was very hard on his immediate family and they all suffered, Bobby and his younger cousin David, the most. Sadly, David is no longer here, but Bobby did survive a terrific beating and I think it’s heroic the way he rehabbed himself. His family, however must fear having all that pain exposed and yes, in today’s climate his past suffering would be exposed again.

    When we consider that most politicians are not holier than thou anymore, I don’t think he has much to fear. President Bush was an admitted drinker and many say, ex coke addict. A heavy recreational drug abuser at best. I don’t know how true allegation was but even powerful Bush family could not stop nasty rumors. President Clinton had an awful sex scandal in office, yet his wife was still able to run successfully for Senate, his misbehavior did not influence her Presidential run either. In fact, most Americans could care less about Bill’s infidelity. He is very well liked as ex-President.

    Betty Ford was addicted to drugs & booze while First Lady. She admitted it in her own memoir. She went on to atone for this by building the Betty Ford Center.

    Pres. Reagans children each came out with colorful tell-all memoirs exposing the disfunctional side of the President’s immediate family. Nobody really cared, and there were some real whoppers about The Reagans as parents, in those books. The tell-alls had & have no impact on ex-President’s popularity.

    Just look at the problems, recent problems of Sen. McCain’s wife Cindy! Detailed exposees of serious drug abuse & divertment were offered up for public consumption. McCain had problems in the campaign, but he did not loose because of Cindy. The tabloids ran with the Cindy McCain scandal but the mainstream media took a pass. I would agree that they might not take a pass with Bobby, because he did have some very dark/tragic chapters in his young life.

    In terms of history, it’s strange with my neices. They don’t seem to impressed with JFK, Jr. When I took my older neice at age 20 to see Kennedy Museum last summer, even tho she was not enthused about going, she was just transfixed watching tapes of Bobby Kennedy! I was crying so hard, watching the documentary on him, I glanced at her, hoping she would not see me weep. I saw that she was leaning forward in her chair, just awe struck at his recitation of Shakespere on the Campaign trail. She told me afterwards how impressed she was, that she thought he was so much more charismatic than JFK, and I agree.

    All I can say is, Bobby, I can see your Dad sadly shaking his head. He knows you have the talent for greatness in you and that you are now, for reasons known only to you, family and G*d are passing a terrific opportunity to serve. I am devestated and I am sure others here are disappointed. There will never be a “perfect” time to serve Bobby, politics is not perfect, but neither is your advocacy environment. You know how to handle the conflicts of public service. You would just be stepping up and applying your work for the greater good.

    Caroline does not begin to compare to you in terms of achievement or even in terms of being able to charm an audiance! I feel her particpation in Obama Campaign was “manufactured”. I am glad Obama is President, but I am still not impressed with Caroline. And I will like her less after this!

    Folks, this is a real sad day for our group. I hope you all will come here & express your feelings. I hope the site owner, will then share our letters with Bobby, Jr. Nothing is impossible, and there may be other areas where he will be able to “step up to the plate” in the near future. He sure wasted lots this time! Time is precious and waits for nobody. If he gets another “unexpected” opportunity, I just pray he does not pass again. We never know what tommorow brings.

    President Obama could appoint him to be a type of Ecology/Energy Czar, a created appointment that might let him bypass Congressional vetting. Sadly, sometimes people pass away unexpectedly, we don’t know what Shumer will do or where he will be when it comes time for re-election. Same w/Governer’s seat. That is one place that may open.

    I think it is OK, to also share some objections to Caroline being favored over Bobby! She wants public office, she will have to deal with public feelings. Just because I support Bobby, does not mean I have to automatically support Caroline. I urge all of you to keep reading about this fascinating family. There is not much out there on Caroline, but you will be able to form some opinion on her; if you don’t already have one. I felt indifferent re her and I had my doubts, but now I am furious, because I see her manipulating Bobby out of spotlight. Family dynamics, as we know, can be fierce!

    Best Regards on this for me, BLACK FRIDAY!

    • Hey Frosty! Hope your holiday season is going well; good to see you back on the blog here! As always, you make many interesting points and get the conversation going…

      You wrote that President Bush was a heavy drinker and ex coke addict before taking office…more recent reports tell us that Bush’s “youthful indiscretions” are not necessarily past tense. Have you seen this story?


      If true, this certainly explains many of Bush’s bonehead actions as President.

      So yeah, I’ll take a recovered former heroin addict who has been clean and sober for 25 years ANY DAY over that!

      As for Caroline, I’ve always liked and admired her. While I’m not sure how qualified she is to serve in the U.S. Senate, or if the voters of NYS will accept her, I do see this as a prime opportunity to keep a Kennedy in the Senate. I guess it is safe to say that Teddy won’t be able to serve much longer, so if Bobby for whatever reason does not want to be a senator (anymore?), Caroline seems like the logical next choice in the line of succession.

      I do suspect that Ted is still stage-managing this dance from behind the curtain…sort of like the Wizard of Oz, isn’t he?

  10. Becca

    Hey, here’s that video of Sen. Reid you asked for:

    Unfortunately I cannot fulfill your other request. I’m fresh out of Febreze!

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